November 10, 2021: -On Monday, the White House said businesses should move forward with President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements for private companies, despite a federal appeals court that orders a temporary halt to the rules.
“People should not wait,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a briefing. “They should keep to move forward and make sure they getting their workplace vaccinated.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit considered the most conservative appellate courts in the country, halting the requirements Saturday pending review, which writing that “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the Mandate.”
The Republican attorneys general in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utah, and several companies request the pause. They argued that the requirements exceed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s authority, enforce the mandates, and amount to an unconstitutional delegation of power to the executive branch by Congress.
On Monday, the Biden administration asked the court to lift the pause, dismissing the states’ and companies’ claims of harm as “premature” given that the deadlines for vaccination and testing are not until January. The administration is claiming that pausing the requirements “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day” as the virus spreads. The Labor and Justice Departments are arguing that OSHA acted within its authority as established by Congress.
The court-ordered pause comes after the requirements went into effect, which starts the countdown for businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure their staff has received the shots required for complete vaccination by January 4. After that date, unvaccinated workers must submit a negative Covid-19 test every week to enter the workplace. All unvaccinated workers must start to wear face masks indoors at their workplaces beginning December 5.
Republican attorneys general in 26 states has challenged Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements in five other U.S. appeals courts since last Friday. The Republican National Committee said it has also challenged the conditions in the D.C. Court of Appeals.
OSHA, which polices workplace safety for the Labor Department, developed the vaccine and testing requirements under the emergency authority established by Congress. That authority is allowing the agency to shortcut the process to issue workplace safety standards, which usually takes years.
On Friday, the Labor Department’s top lawyer, Seema Nanda, said that the Biden administration is “prepared to defend this standard in court.”
Nanda said the law “explicitly gives OSHA the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency is finding that workers are subjected to a grave danger, and a new standard is necessary to protect them.”
Nanda said the vaccine and testing requirements supersede “any state or local requirements that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, face-covering, or testing.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning vaccine mandates in the Lone Star State in the previous month.