BY MITCHELL FERMAN at The Texas Tribune, NOV. 5, 2021
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration on Friday over new federal COVID-19 vaccine rules announced the day before, which order big businesses to mandate vaccination against the virus among their employees by Jan. 4 or require regular testing.
The new federal rules preempt state and local laws, including part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide ban on vaccine mandates.
“The Biden Administration’s new vaccine mandate on private businesses is a breathtaking abuse of federal power,” Paxton said in a written statement Friday.
The U.S. Labor Department, which drafted one of the rules, “has only limited power and specific responsibilities,” Paxton said. “This latest move goes way outside those bounds. This ‘standard’ is flatly unconstitutional. Bottom line: Biden’s new mandate is bad policy and bad law, and I’m asking the Court to strike it down.”
The suit comes a week after Paxton filed a separate lawsuit against the Biden administration over its coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal contractors. The federal requirement, which is set to take effect Dec. 8, calls on all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The White House on Thursday said “more vaccinations are needed to save lives, protect the economy, and accelerate the path out of the pandemic.”
The new rules from the Biden administration will impact around 80 million workers nationwide, the White House said. Health workers at facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid also must be fully vaccinated, which the White House said applies nationwide to more than 17 million workers at around 76,000 health care centers, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
Abbott issued an executive order last month banning any entity in Texas, including private businesses, from requiring anyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The new Biden administration rule would void part of the ban, but Abbott’s order still would likely apply to other entities in the state.