Two dozen Republican attorneys general warned the White House on Thursday of an impending legal action if the proposed coronavirus vaccine requirements for 100 million Americans go into effect.
“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” prosecutors led by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson wrote in a letter sent to President Joe Biden. “Unless your administration changes its course, the undersigned state attorney general will seek all available legal options to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law.”
The letter is the latest objection from the GOP to new federal vaccine requirements for private sector employees, healthcare providers and federal contractors that Biden announced earlier this month. The requirement, which is to be put in place under the Occupational Health and Safety Administration rule, is part of a global effort to curb the growth of the COVID-19 delta variant.
The OSHA rule, which covers nearly two-thirds of the private sector workforce, will be in effect for six months, after which it should be replaced by a permanent measure. Employers who do not comply with the rules can face fines of up to $ 13,600 for violation.
Once published, the rule will take effect in the 29 states where OSHA has jurisdiction, according to the law firm Fisher Phillips textbook. Other states, such as California and North Carolina, which have their own federally approved OSH agencies, would have up to 30 days to take similar action.
Republican leaders – as well as some union leaders – said Biden went too far in trying to pump up private companies and workers. One of the first to speak was South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, who tweeted that his state will fight to the “gate of hell to protect the freedom and livelihood of every South Carolina.”
In a letter to Biden that the vaccine decree is “also illegal,” Wilson warned that courts have fully affirmed only one of OSHA’s 10 interim emergency standards in decades.
Prosecutors also warned that “the decree is unlikely to win hearts and minds – it will simply generate further skepticism” about the vaccines.
“Your mandate to vaccinate is not only a threat to individual freedom, but also a public health disaster that will displace vulnerable workers and exacerbate a nationwide hospital staffing crisis with severe consequences for all Americans,” they write.
Rather than requiring vaccines or weekly testing, prosecutors have suggested that some companies could force employees to work remotely instead of reporting in person.
In addition to Wilson in South Carolina, the letter was signed by attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.