OSHA to withdraw vaccine, testing mandate

COVID-19 Vaccine

By Brett Rowland, The Center Square

(The Center Square) – The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration said Tuesday it will withdraw its Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard on Wednesday for businesses with more than 100 employees after a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

On Jan. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, said OSHA couldn’t enforce the standard without Congressional approval. The high court allowed a separate mandate to stand for certain health care workers.

OSHA “is withdrawing the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard issued on Nov. 5, 2021, to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard. OSHA strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.”

OSHA’s decision not to withdraw the mandate as a proposed permanent rule, which could be adopted in the coming months, frustrated Republicans and other groups.

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“The Supreme Court made it clear that the President Biden administration’s attempt to federalize the nation’s workforce is blatantly unconstitutional,” said Kelly Shackelford, president, CEO, and chief counsel for First Liberty Institute. “OSHA had no choice but to withdraw its unlawful ETS, but it needs to completely put an end to this dangerous government overreach. We will continue to fight on behalf of our clients and the American people to protect them from being forced to violate their faith.”

First Liberty Institute represents three national religious ministries – Daystar Television Network, the American Family Association, and Answers in Genesis – in consolidated cases challenging the mandate. Daystar Television Network is a faith-based network; America Family Association is a family organization; Answers in Genesis is a religious family attraction with properties, including a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark, in northern Kentucky.

Republicans have criticized the mandate, saying it’s a violation of the personal rights of individuals to make their own health-care choices and would increase the nationwide worker shortage. Many Democrats have supported it, though two Democratic U.S. senators joined all 50 Republicans in voting to repeal the mandate during a Senate vote in December.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the mandate authoritarian.

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“The Biden administration’s stubborn attempt to keep alive its heavy-handed mandate against private businesses and their employees will only create further uncertainty for hardworking Georgians,” Carr said. “This delay is completely unnecessary, and the President should put an end to it once and for all by immediately withdrawing his unlawful permit.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Biden should drop his pursuit of a different path for the mandate.

“Both the Supreme Court and the American people have spoken, and they have loudly said the Biden administration’s attempts at forcing this mandate on Americans and businesses are not only wrong, but also unconstitutional,” Kemp said. “Still, the President continues to seek other avenues for his failed policies.”

The Center Square is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on state- and local-level government and economic reporting.