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23 GOP attorneys general threaten to sue Biden over “disastrous” COVID vaccine mandate

In a letter to President Joe Biden, two dozen of the nation’s Republican attorneys general said Thursday they would seek legal action if the White House’s proposal to require vaccines for 100 million Americans is carried out.

The GOP prosecutors chastised Biden for the proposed measure, which would see a federal vaccine requirement imposed for private-sector employees, health care workers and federal contractors. The requirement, announced earlier this month, is being enacted through a rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as part of an effort to inoculate Americans from the more deadly delta variant.

“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” the prosecutors, led by Attorney General Alan Wilson of South Carolina, wrote in a letter sent to Biden. “If your Administration does not alter its course, the undersigned state Attorneys General will seek every available legal option to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law.”

Republican attorneys general have criticized Biden over his vaccine requirement imposed for private-sector employees, health care workers and federal contractors. Above, President Joe Biden leaves after speaking about the economy at the White House on September 16.
Evan Vucci/AP Photo

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

The OSHA rule, which covers nearly two-thirds of the private sector workforce, would last six months, after which it must be replaced by a permanent measure. Employers that don’t comply could face penalties of up to $13,600 per violation.

Once it’s out, the rule would take effect in 29 states where OSHA has jurisdiction, according to a primer by the law firm Fisher Phillips. Other states like California and North Carolina that have their own federally approved workplace safety agencies would have up to 30 days to adopt equivalent measures.

Republican leaders—and some union chiefs, too—have said that Biden was going too far in trying to muscle private companies and workers. One of the first to speak out was Governor Henry McMaster of South Carolina, who said on Twitter that his state would fight to “the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian.”

Writing to Biden that the vaccine “edict is also illegal,” Wilson warned that courts have fully upheld only one of 10 emergency temporary OSHA standards in recent decades

The prosecutors also cautioned that the “edict is unlikely to win hearts and minds—it will simply drive further skepticism” over vaccines.

“Your vaccine mandate represents not only a threat to individual liberty, but a public health disaster that will displace vulnerable workers and exacerbate a nationwide hospital staffing crisis, with severe consequences for all Americans,” they write.

In lieu of vaccine or weekly testing requirements, the prosecutors proposed that some companies could have employees work remotely, rather than report 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, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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