Lawyers on behalf of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the department which ordered the rule, submitted a new reply in the case defending the measure, while the White House urged businesses to follow the original timeline of the rule despite the stay.
“Do not wait to take actions that will keep your workplace safe. It is important and critical to do, and waiting to get more people vaccinated will lead to more outbreaks and sickness,” said White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in a press conference while filling in for Press Secretary Jen Psaki who recently tested positive for COVID-19.
“We’re trying to get past this pandemic, and we know the way to do that is to get people vaccinated,” said Jean-Pierre. “So, people should not wait. They should continue to go — move forward and make sure that they’re getting their workplace vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, in the ongoing court case, lawyers for the Biden administration submitted a reply arguing that the OSHA has the rightful authority delegated by Congress to implement the rule.
“But this Court need not consider delegation or deference issues here because the statutory text is unambiguous and limited to addressing grave dangers to employees in the workplace,” states the reply.
The filing from the Biden administration points to the 750,000 COVID-19 deaths reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and claims that the new rule for businesses will “save over 6,500 worker lives and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations.”
“Like many other areas of regulation, workplace-safety regulations may affect many Americans and may touch on issues about which some people disagree. But that does not automatically compel a circumscribed interpretation of a deliberately broad congressional grant,” they contend.
In response to the State of Texas and other petitioners who oppose the new regulation, the Biden administration says that the agency is only acting to implement the rule now — long after COVID-19 vaccines have become commonly available — because “voluntary safety measures proved ineffective, COVID grew more virulent, and fully approved vaccines and tests are increasingly available.”
“[T]his is an authority that we believe that Department of Labor has,” said Jean-Pierre. “We are very confident about it.”
The Biden administration did not touch on the complaints from petitioners that the new regulation goes against previous assertions from President Biden himself that he would not mandate the vaccine or that the rule is simply a “novel ‘work-around’ of federal law.”
Petitioners, which include the states of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, and many private entities, have until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday to file a response to the Biden administration’s reply.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.