White House tells businesses to proceed with vaccine mandate despite court-ordered pause

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  • The White House said on Monday that businesses should proceed with the requirements despite the court order.
  • The US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is considered one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, halted the requirements pending Saturday.
  • Republican attorney generals in at least 26 states have challenged President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements in five different US appeals courts.
  • The Biden administration asked the court to lift the pause on Monday evening, claiming it could cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.

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The White House said on Monday that businesses should proceed with President Joe Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements for private businesses, despite a federal appeals court ordering the rules to be temporarily halted.

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“People shouldn’t wait,” White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during a briefing. “They should continue to go ahead and make sure they are getting their workplace vaccinated.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, considered one of the most conservative appellate courts in the country, stayed the requirements pending Saturday, writing that “the petitions give reason to believe that with the mandate There are serious statutory and constitutional issues.”

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Republican attorney generals in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah, as well as several companies, requested a pause. He argued that the requirements exceeded the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which would enforce the mandate, and amounted to an unconstitutional delegation of power by Congress to the executive branch.

In its response on Monday evening, the Biden administration asked the court to lift the pause, dismissing the damages claims from states and companies as “premature”, noting that the deadline for vaccination and testing is not until January. Is. The administration claimed that curbing requirements on the spread of the virus “could lead to dozens or even hundreds of lives per day”. The Labor and Justice Departments also argued that OSHA acted within its authority established by Congress.

The court-ordered pause comes a day after the requirements went into effect, starting a countdown for businesses with 100 or more employees to make sure their employees have received the shots they need for full vaccinations by January. After that date, unvaccinated workers must submit a negative COVID-19 test weekly to enter the workplace. All non-vaccinated workers should start wearing face masks indoors at their workplaces from 5 December.

Republican attorneys general in at least 26 states have challenged Biden’s vaccine and testing requirements in five different US appeals courts since last Friday. The Republican National Committee said it has also challenged the requirements in the DC Court of Appeals.

It is unclear which court will ultimately decide the case. When multiple petitions are filed in at least two courts, the cases in one of those courts are consolidated through a lottery system. The Justice Department said in a filing Monday that the lottery is expected to take place on or around November 16. The Biden administration said in its response on Monday that the courts should not rule unless the jurisdiction of the consolidated case is selected.

David Vladeck, a law professor at Georgetown University, said there was a “high probability” that the case would end up before the Supreme Court.

“There are judges on the court who want to rein in the administrative situation, and this is a case in which those concerns are likely to come to the fore,” Vladeck told CNBC.

OSHA, which ensures workplace safety for the Department of Labor, developed the vaccine and testing requirements under emergency authority established by Congress. That authorization allows the agency to shorten the process of issuing workplace safety standards, which typically takes years.

Labor Department’s top lawyer Seema Nanda said Friday that the Biden administration is “fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”

Nanda said the law “clearly empowers OSHA to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are at serious risk and a new standard is necessary to protect them.”

Nanda also said that vaccine and testing requirements “undermine any state or local requirements that restrict or limit an employer’s right to require vaccination, face-covering or testing.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last month issued an executive order to ban vaccine mandates in the Lone Star State.

OSHA emergency workplace safety standards have a mixed track record in the jurisdictions. Prior to the vaccine requirements, the agency had issued 10 such standards in its 50-year history. Courts stayed or reversed four of those standards, and a fifth was partially vacated.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 750,000 people have died from Covid in the US since the pandemic began. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than 1,100 people die from Covid a day, and more than 71,000 are newly infected a day.

“If this isn’t a serious threat, I don’t know what is,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday.

— CNBC’s Kevin Brauninger /em>

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