The White House urged private businesses to continue abiding by its sweeping vaccine mandate this week despite a recent court ruling that brought the mandate to a halt.
“People should not wait,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “They should continue to move forward and make sure they’re getting their workplace vaccinated.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit halted Biden’s employer vaccine mandate, which requires all employers with more than 100 employees to mandate either vaccination against COVID-19 or weekly testing, writing that lawsuits against it have given the courts “cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.”
The attorneys general of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah, as well as several companies, requested the pause, arguing that Biden’s vaccine mandate exceeds the authority of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which has been charged with enforcing the mandate, and amounts to an unconstitutional delegation of power to the executive branch by Congress.
The Biden administration responded to the 5th Circuit’s ruling by dismissing the plaintiffs’ concerns as “premature” since the mandate does not go into effect until January. The administration also claimed pausing the mandate “would likely cost dozens or even hundreds of lives per day.”
When asked about the chances of the mandate being struck down completely, Jean-Pierre insisted it is constitutional.
“This is an authority that we believe the Department of Labor has,” she said. “We are very confident about it.”
The Labor Department’s top lawyer, Seema Nanda, agreed and said the Biden administration is “fully prepared to defend this standard in court.”
“OSHA [has] the authority to act quickly in an emergency where the agency finds that workers are subjected to a grave danger and a new standard is necessary to protect them,” Nanda claimed.