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President Joe Biden’s goal to put a federal vaccine mandate in place by Jan. 4 has temporarily halted after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit said the mandate entailed “grave statutory and constitutional issues.”
On Friday, Republican governors began filing lawsuits to stop the Biden administration’s requirement that nearly 2 million U.S. employers get workers tested or vaccinated for COVID-19 and said the mandate trampled civil liberties, Reuters reports.
On Saturday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit stayed the mandate, citing “grave statutory and constitutional issues,” after more than two dozen states filed lawsuits challenging the requirements.
But White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain said Sunday that he doesn’t think a federal court’s decision to temporarily halt the Biden administration’s workplace COVID vaccine mandate will have “much practical effect in the short run.”
Klain said during an interview on NBC News’ Meet the Press that the mandate will be “well litigated well before January 3,” a day before the policy is slated to take effect, Newsweek reports.
“Look, these vaccine requirements have been litigated up and down the courts all over the country, state requirements, for example, one in Maine,” Klain said. “And every single court before this one ruled that they were valid. The Supreme Court has turned back several times already various efforts to enjoin other vaccine requirements. I’m quite confident that when this finally gets fully adjudicated, not just a temporary order, the validity of this requirement will be upheld.”
Under the now-frozen vaccine requirements issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, workers at businesses with at least 100 employees would have to be vaccinated against COVID by January 4 or wear masks and undergo weekly testing protocols. Reuters reports the regulation was implemented as a rarely used emergency rule from the OSHA, which is a federal workplace regulator.
“The federal government can’t just unilaterally impose medical policy under the guise of workplace regulation,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a press conference on Thursday.
But during his interview, Klain said that the Biden administration’s workplace vaccine requirement is “common sense.”
“If OSHA can tell people to wear a hard hat on the job, to be careful with chemicals, it can put in place these simple measures to keep our workers safe,” he said, per Newsweek.
Biden first announced that he would be issuing vaccine mandates in September, stating that all workers at large employers, as well as federal contractors, would be subject to vaccine requirements. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a court filing that represented 11 states that “the mandate is unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.”
Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Utah, Kansas, Kentucky, Idaho, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, West Virginia, Alabama, Florida and Georgia are also challenging the vaccine rules, Newsweek reports.
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