The Biden administration is “prepared to defend” sweeping new coronavirus vaccine guidelines for big corporations amid new authorized challenges, Dr. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon common, stated on Sunday.
The administration final week set Jan. 4 because the deadline for corporations with 100 or extra staff to mandate Covid vaccinations or implement weekly testing of employees. The mandate would enable for medical or spiritual exemptions, and firms that fail to conform could also be fined.
“The president and the administration wouldn’t have put these necessities in place in the event that they didn’t suppose that they have been applicable and vital,” Dr. Murthy stated on ABC’s “This Week.”
Dr. Murthy pointed to the nation’s historical past as precedent: George Washington required troops to be inoculated in opposition to smallpox in 1777.
The sweeping transfer already has raised authorized challenges, with opponents arguing that the requirement is unconstitutional. One coalition of companies, spiritual teams, advocacy organizations and several other states filed a petition on Friday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Louisiana, arguing that the administration overstepped its authority.
On Saturday, a panel of the court temporarily blocked the new mandate, writing “the petitions give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.”
The stay does not have immediate impact, as the first major deadline in the rule is Dec. 5, when companies with at least 100 employees must require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors. But the move provides momentum for the mandate’s opponents.
The legal challenge questions whether the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the authority to issue the rule, or whether such a mandate must be passed by Congress.
It was unclear whether the stay will be a procedural blip for the Biden administration, or the first step in the unwinding of the mandate. A separate lawsuit against the mandate was filed on Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis by 11 Republican-led states.
So far, legal challenges to vaccine mandates have fallen short.
On Sunday, the White House chief of staff Ron Klain said he was “quite confident” the mandate would be upheld in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“If OSHA can inform individuals to put on a tough hat on the job, to watch out round chemical compounds, it may well put in place these easy measures to maintain our employees protected,” Mr. Klain stated.