Biden Administration Suspends Business Vaccine Prescription

US President Joe Biden speaks out on the authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11 in the Southern Courtroom at the White House in Washington on November 3, 2021.

Evelyn Hawkstein | Reuters

The Biden administration has suspended its vaccination and testing requirements for private businesses after a federal appeals court suspended pending rules.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said in a statement on its website that the agency “suspended compliance and enforcement activities”, “pending further developments in the litigation.”

The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, considered one of the most conservative in the country, ordered OSHA last week “to take no steps to fulfill or enforce the mandate until further court ruling.”

Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt, in a three-judge panel, called Biden’s policies “fatally flawed” and “startlingly excessive,” arguing that it likely exceeded the authority of the federal government and caused “serious constitutional problems.”

The White House had previously ordered businesses to start meeting the requirements.

Republican attorneys general, private business and national industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, the American Freight Forwarding Associations and the National Federation of Independent Business have all sued to overturn the claims. Unions are asking courts to expand requirements to include small businesses and protect more workers.

The cases were brought to Ohio’s Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this week after the Biden administration asked a multi-window judicial panel to randomize 34 lawsuits in a single court.

A sixth constituency, with a Republican majority nominated, ordered the administration to file a single response by November 30 to multiple requests for a full court hearing rather than a three-judge panel. Hearings of all 16 judges could potentially provide a better venue for those trying to overturn claims due to a conservative majority in the court.

The Biden administration, in its response to the Fifth Circuit’s initial November 6 decision to pause, warned that the halt to vaccine requirements “will likely cost tens or even hundreds of lives a day” as the virus spreads. The Labor and Justice Departments maintain that OSHA acted within its powers established by Congress.

According to Biden’s policy, companies with 100 or more employees were required to provide vaccinations or regular testing of their employees by January 4. Unvaccinated employees were scheduled to start wearing masks indoors in the workplace on December 5.

OSHA said it “remains confident in its ability to protect workers in emergencies.” The agency that oversees workplace safety for the Department of Labor has issued requirements in line with its emergency response mandate. OSHA may shorten the normal rule-making process if the labor secretary determines that a new workplace safety standard is necessary to protect workers from serious hazards.

Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, said whatever the outcome in the federal court of appeal, the case is likely to be heard by the Supreme Court. “Whoever loses in the Sixth Circuit will go to the Supreme Court,” Tobias told CNBC on Thursday.

The US Chamber of Commerce, in a statement to CNBC this week, advised businesses to continue implementation until the requirements are “finally canceled.”

“Ultimately, the courts will make the decision, but employers still have to treat this as a valid ETS until it is finally closed,” said Mark Friedman, vice president of the Chamber of Employment Policy, of the interim standard for emergencies. “They shouldn’t count on 5 preliminary actionsth Circuit, “he said in a statement to CNBC.

Correction: The National Federation of Independent Business has filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn the Biden administration’s vaccination and testing requirements. In a previous version of this story, the name of the organization was distorted. The Sixth Circuit has asked the Biden administration to provide a response to requests for a full trial. History has previously distorted petitions.

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