Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy told Southwest Airlines to "eat it" as cancelations from the airline mounted this weekend, and critics speculated it was due to employees protesting the company's vaccine mandate.
"This makes me happier than I can possibly articulate. Eat it, @SouthwestAir," Roy tweeted in response to a photo showing Southwest’s terminal in Reagan National Airport packed with people amid the cancelations.
More than 1,000 weekend flights were canceled by Southwest, which the airline blamed on bad weather. Critics lambasted the disruptions, and speculated the company’s vaccine mandate played a role, noting the airline’s pilots’ union had recently asked a court to block the mandate.
Roy also tweeted that he is currently working on legislation that would require companies to pay back bailout funds they may have taken if they fire employees over not complying with vaccine mandates.
"I am working on legislation to require all companies that took bailouts to have to pay them back - in full - if they fire any employee for lack of vax per @JoeBiden’s unconstitutional order," Roy added in another tweet Sunday evening.
"I stand with employees telling their corporate and government overlords to shove it. No mercy - bring them all to a halt. Shut them all down. #LetsGoBrandon #SayNoToVaxMandates," Roy said in another tweet.
Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also blamed President Biden’s "illegal vaccine mandate" for the flight disruptions.
"Joe Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate at work! Suddenly, we’re short on pilots & air traffic controllers.#ThanksJoe."
The airline announced last week that its workers must be vaccinated against COVID-19 and have until Dec. 8 to be fully vaccinated. The rule came in response to new rules from the Biden administration requiring companies with federal contracts to have vaccinated staff.
Southwest Airlines told Fox News in an emailed statement that the "weekend challenges were not a result of Employee demonstrations, as some have reported," and added that weather issues in Florida created much of the disruptions.
"We have a closer to normal operation today, navigating some new weather across our system. To recap the weekend cancellations, the bad weather and ATC issues in Florida, a large operation for us, on Friday night created significant flight disruptions throughout our network and we spent the weekend working to recover from the high number of displaced Crews, aircraft, and Customers. Although we have some new weather in parts of our system, today's operation has vastly improved from the weekend, with a much smaller number of cancellations linked to our weekend recovery efforts. We appreciate our Customer and Employee patience as we worked to reset our schedule," the statement added.