Biden's Controversial Vaccine Mandate Officially Withdrawn

Supreme Court had blocked it earlier this month
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2022 12:53 AM CST
Biden Withdraws His Controversial Vaccine Mandate
Protesters gather for a rally against COVID-19 vaccine mandates in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(Newser) – Following the blocking of his vaccine mandate for large businesses by the Supreme Court earlier this month, President Biden is withdrawing the OSHA regulation entirely. The US Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Tuesday it is dropping the requirement that companies with more than 100 employees mandate their workers either get vaccinated or undergo regular COVID testing and wear face masks at work. Even so, it will continue to keep that requirement as a proposed rule, it said in its statement, adding, "The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard."

A Department of Labor spokesperson tells CNN that "OSHA is evaluating the record and the evolving course of the pandemic. OSHA has made no determinations at this time about when or if it will finalize a Vaccination and Testing rule. The agency intends to work expeditiously to issue a final standard that will protect healthcare workers from COVID-19 hazards." As USA Today explains, if the rule, which was first issued as an "emergency temporary standard," is imposed on a non-emergency basis and is targeted more narrowly, it could have a better chance of standing up against another legal challenge.

With no federal standard, one HR policy expert notes, employers could be in for a confusing time due to differing local and state mandates—some of which conflict with each other. Plus, the courts are still deciding whether the administration can require that businesses that receive government contracts institute a vaccine-or-test mandate. Opponents of the Biden administration's mandate were speaking up in response to the withdrawal; the head of the American Trucking Associations said the mandate would have pushed "an already-overstressed supply chain" to the brink. (Read more vaccine mandate stories.)

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