Republican Leader of the Education and Labor Committee Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Republican Leader of the Oversight and Reform Ranking Committee James Comer (R-Ky.), and Republican Leader of Small Business Committee Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) sent a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Martin J. Walsh regarding the Biden Administration’s troubling COVID-19 vaccine-and-testing mandate for American employers and employees. The Republicans expressed concerns about the prudence and legality of President Biden’s unprecedented authorization of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enforce a mandatory vaccine-and-testing emergency temporary standard (ETS). In addition, they highlighted that—yet again—this Administration’s failure to lead is sowing chaos and confusion. President Biden and his Administration insisted for months there would be no federal mandates, only to dramatically switch course and demand an authoritarian—and likely illegal—vaccine-and-testing ETS.

“We are conducting oversight of the Biden Administration’s announced COVID-19 vaccine-and-testing mandate on American employees and employers.…This rule will cover roughly 80 million American workers. President Biden’s authoritarian mandate imposes troubling and probably illegal constraints on American businesses and their employees. It is just the latest example of President Biden and his Administration breaking promises and making decisions with no thought towards implementation…On December 5, 2020, then President-elect Biden promised vaccines would not be required. Later, on May 14, 2021, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said ‘[the Biden Administration] [is] not currently considering federal mandates.’ And on July 29, 2021, when asked about the federal government requiring vaccines for all Americans, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said ‘[n]o. That’s not an authority that we’re exploring at all.’ Yet only a few weeks later, President Biden did an about-face, abruptly announcing a national vaccine-and-testing mandate—a mandate never before imposed on employers or the American workforce,” wrote the lawmakers.

“Not all American employers have the luxury to wait for answers. They have been blind-sided by the President’s mandate. Some are laying off workers based on vaccine refusals. Making matters worse, non-compliance with the mandate could cause employers to confront fines of $136,532 per violation under existing law—and legislation pending in Congress proposes to raise the level of fines to $700,000 per violation.…The legality of the President’s private-sector vaccine-and-testing mandate is also highly questionable,” concluded the lawmakers.

To understand the Biden Administration’s plans to implement and enforce the ETS, Committee Republicans are seeking all information, documents, and communications related to President Biden’s vaccine-and-testing mandate.

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