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Biden Administration Withdraws COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate For Businesses In Wake of Supreme Court Ruling

The agency will ask the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss any lawsuits relating to the mandate

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration will no longer require a mandatory vaccine-or-test policy for companies with more than 100 employees.

In an announcement on Jan. 25, the agency announced the end of the mandate. It will be fully withdrawn on Jan. 26.

The agency said in its statement to the court that the Biden administration will still pursue a permanent vaccine standard.

OSHA issued the mandate under its emergency powers, which the agency can use to shortcut the normal rulemaking process if the labor secretary determines workers face a grave danger,” reports CNBC. “OSHA left open the possibility that it might try to finalize a permanent vaccine and testing rule in the future.”

The Supreme Court blocked the mandate on Jan. 13, stating OSHA had overstepped its authority by requiring employers to make a vaccine a requisite for employment.

“Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly,” wrote the court in its decision. “Requiring the vaccination of 84 million Americans, selected simply because they work for employers with more than 100 employees, certainly falls in the latter category,”

President Joe Biden subsequently asked businesses to voluntarily enforce the requirements. Some, including apparel company Carhartt, did — while others, like Starbucks, did not.

In court documents obtained by Business Insider, OSHA “still strongly encourages all workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.”

OSHA will ask that any case related to the mandate be dismissed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Dozens of states, religious groups, national trade associations, and private businesses filed lawsuits in the wake of President Biden’s mandate.

In a statement, a Labor Department spokesperson said, “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.”

OSHA intends to focus on establishing permanent COVID-19 safety standards for healthcare workers. Previous standards, issued last summer as temporary emergency rules, included requiring health care facilities to supply personal protective equipment, build physical barriers in certain spaces, and maintain proper ventilation among other regulations.

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