The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is formally withdrawing President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, which would have affected roughly 84 million workers across the country, the agency announced on Tuesday.
In a January 25 statement, OSHA announced the withdrawal of the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard, which it issued on November 5, 2021. In its statement, it pitched the mandate as a means to “protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus.”
“The withdrawal is effective January 26, 2022,” OSHA announced, although it clarified it is not withdrawing the ETS as a “proposed rule.”
“Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard,” the agency said, emphasizing that it “strongly encourages vaccination of workers against the continuing dangers posed by COVID-19 in the workplace.”
President Joe Biden originally pitched the rule in a divisive September speech on the Chinese coronavirus in which he scolded unvaccinated Americans, warning that patience was “wearing thin.”
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing,” Biden said in the inflammatory speech, attempting to coerce unvaccinated Americans into following his edicts.
“But just don’t take it from me; listen to the voices of unvaccinated Americans who are lying in hospital beds, taking their final breaths, saying, ‘If only I had gotten vaccinated. If only,'” he said, ultimately pitching the rule to “protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers.”
Per the rule, employers with 100 or more employees would be forced to implement vaccine mandate or implement testing requirements. Under OSHA’s rule, the burden of the cost of testing would remain on the unvaccinated employee, essentially amounting to a work tax. The rule would have affected roughly 84 million workers across the country.
However, the Supreme Court this month blocked the mandate in a 6-3 decision, although Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the liberal justices in keeping the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) mandate on healthcare workers, although the Court explicitly acknowledged that the CMS mandate still exempts workers who object to the vaccine for religious or medical reasons.
The Supreme Court’s rejection of Biden’s OSHA mandate came over a year after Biden, who was then president-elect, said he “wouldn’t demand” mandatory coronavirus vaccines.
“No. I don’t think it should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it be mandatory,” Biden said at the time. “But I would do everything in my power — I don’t think masks need to be made mandatory nationwide.”
Notably, Biden has flip-flopped on both of those positions, as masks are still required on planes and the country goes far beyond his original pitch for “just” 100 days of masking.
The applications are NFIB v. OSHA, No. 21A244 at the Supreme Court of the United States, and Biden v. Missouri, No. 21A240 in the Supreme Court of the United States.