The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will withdraw a rule mandating that private businesses with more than 100 employees require that they be vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing against the virus.
OSHA will formally withdraw the rule on Wednesday, according to a document published Tuesday in an advanced version of the Federal Register. The rule, announced in November by President Joe Biden, was immediately challenged by several states and private companies, and the Supreme Court issued a stay on Jan. 13 while federal appeals courts consider its legality. (RELATED: Supreme Court Blocks Biden’s Vaccine-Or-Testing Rule For Businesses, Allows Healthcare Worker Mandate To Move Forward)
“After evaluating the Court’s decision, OSHA is withdrawing the Vaccination and Testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard,” the agency wrote in the Register.
The OSHA announcement was first reported by Bloomberg Law.
— Bruce Rolfsen (@OSHAReporter) January 25, 2022
Republicans celebrated the announcement.
“Today marks a major victory in the RNC’s fight to protect workers and businesses from Biden and Democrats’ authoritarian vaccine mandates. Hardworking Americans should not be forced to choose between being vaccinated and providing for their families. The Biden administration may have surrendered in their attempt to force their ’emergency’ vaccine mandate, but the fight is not over. The Republican National Committee’s legal team will continue to protect workers and businesses from Joe Biden’s authoritarian overreach,” Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement.
When he announced the rule, Biden argued that it would reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the number of Americans who received vaccinations against the virus. Vaccines are less effective at reducing the spread of the newly-dominant Omicron variant, although they are still effective at preventing hospitalization and death.
“Some of the biggest companies are already requiring this,” Biden said in defending the rule. “United Airlines, Disney, Tyson food and even Fox News.”
However, OSHA suspended the rule’s enforcement in November, after the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay. It never went back into effect.
Other portions of the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate plan have also been held up. A federal judge in Texas issued an injunction on Friday preventing the government from mandating that all federal employees and contractors receive COVID-19 vaccines. The judge, Jeffrey Brown, ruled that Biden could not issue such a mandate “with the stroke of a pen and without the input of Congress.”
Several lower court judges also blocked the federal government’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers whose employers receive Medicare and Medicaid funds. However, the Supreme Court ruled that that mandate can remain in effect while its legality is debated at lower courts.