Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, the Biden administration official tasked with overseeing OSHA’s new vaccination mandate for private businesses employing at least 100 people, said on Thursday that the new rule “isn’t a mandate.” He added that those opposed to taking the COVID-19 vaccine should “take a deep breath,” because the federal government imposed the sweeping new, top-down rule in order to keep them safe.
On Thursday, the Biden administration released the controversial rule it has long previewed requiring that businesses with 100 employees or more require workers to be fully vaccinated, although it gives businesses the option of making their employees submit to weekly COVID tests and wearing “a face covering” while at work. The administration introduced the Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) mandate through the auspices of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is part of the U.S. Department of Labor.
Walsh seemed to make much of the fact that the regulation, published in the Federal Register on Friday, allows — but does not require — employers to let employees who do not want to be vaccinated to be tested. The ETS openly promotes “the preferred, and more protective, vaccination provision.”
“Quite honestly, I think a lot of the companies already with 100 or more employees already have some type of vaccine program, and a lot of times, it’s a mandate,” Secretary Walsh said. “This isn’t a mandate. This is a vaccine or testing. And I think that that’s something that a lot of the people who are anti-vaccine and saying they don’t want it — I want you to take a deep breath and hear what I’m saying here, because I think it’s really important to understand. It is about keeping people safe, including folks that don’t want to get vaccinated, to make sure that they’re safe.”
"This isn't a mandate — this is a vaccine or testing," Labor Sec. Walsh says on new OSHA standard for vaccine or testing requirements. "It is about keeping people safe, including folks that don't want to get vaccinated, to make sure that they're safe." pic.twitter.com/aiQYQ6YuNe
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) November 5, 2021
Legal actions have already ensued, as numerous state attorneys general said the law oversteps the government’s constitutional authority, tramples on the prerogatives of states and individual liberties, and will further erode public trust in the vaccine. Vaccine mandates have typically been imposed at the state or local level.
Eleven states immediately sued the Biden administration over the mandate in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, calling the mandate “unconstitutional, unlawful, and unwise.”
“The Biden [a]dministration’s new vaccine mandate on private businesses is a breathtaking abuse of federal power,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “Biden’s new mandate is bad policy and bad law, and I’m asking the [c]ourt to strike it down.”
Bottom line: Biden’s new mandate is bad policy and bad law, and I’m asking the Court to strike it down.https://t.co/Y2qVvfoU6o
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) November 5, 2021