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24 states unite to block Biden’s vaccine mandate

The attorneys general of the participating states said in a blunt letter to the president that they would pursue every possible legal action to kill the plan.
Photograph: Shutterstock

The attorneys general of 24 states alerted President Biden Thursday that they will pursue “every available legal option” to thwart the chief executive’s worker vaccination mandate if the White House doesn’t drop the plan. 

The legal officers said they were roused to act in part because the inoculation requirement will likely drive more working Americans out of the job market, worsening a labor market that is already insufficient.

“At least some Americans will simply leave the job market instead of complying,” read a letter sent to the president by the 24 AGs. “This will strain an already-too-tight labor market, burdening companies and (therefore) threatening the jobs of even those who have received a vaccine.”

The plan sketched out by Biden would require that proof of vaccination or a weekly negative COVID-19 test be provided by every employee of a company with at least 100 people on the payroll. 

The letter blasted the program as “disastrous and counterproductive,” illegal, unnecessary and a potential deterrent to more people rolling up their sleeves. The latter argues that Biden poorly chose his words when he told the nation on Sept. 9 that “if you get the vaccine, you’re highly protected against severe illness, even if you get COVID-19.”

That contention underscores that the vaccinated can still get the disease. “That is hardly a statement of confidence in the efficacy of vaccines,” the AGs wrote.

They questioned whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the federal agency that will draft and enforce the vaccination mandate, even has the authority to do so.

The 1972 law creating OSHA gave it the power to protect workers from any substances, agents or hazards that posed a risk to their safety. But those things need to be present in the workplace, not “in the world generally.”

Plus, the letter asserts, OSHA was established to safeguard industrial situations, not the functions of every company, be it a manufacturer or a service enterprise.

“if your Administration does not alter its course, the undersigned Attorneys General will seek every available legal option to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law,” the communication concludes.

The White House has yet to respond publicly to the letter.

It was signed by the AGs of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

All but three—Kansas, Kentucky and Louisiana—are led by Republican governors.

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