President Joe Biden’s announcement of new mandates for federal employees and contractors have sparked outrage among Republican governors around the country. (Courtesy of @therecount/Twitter)

By J. K. Schmid
Special to the AFRO

President Biden is moving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to force employer protection of workers, he announced Sept. 9.

The new rules are expected to mandate vaccination for federal employees and contractors.

An Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) is also expected to mandate vaccination for employees, or weekly COVID testing for employees, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the United States.

The New York TImes counted 2,652 US COVID deaths on Sept. 15; the ongoing spike in deaths brings the weekly average of U.S. COVID deaths to 1,888.

Employers that do not adhere to the new OSHA guidelines face a $14,000 fine for each OSHA violation.

The new rules target employers with 100 or more employees, meaning 100 million Americans may enjoy new protections from COVID via the Department of Labor oversight.

The White House, Department of Labor and OSHA have not published the proposed guidelines, rules and restrictions at the time of this writing.

“I’m filing a bill to gut OSHA,” Republican Madison Cawthorn, North Carolina’s 11th District representative, tweeted in response on Sept. 9.

What progress Mr. Cawthorn can make in a majority-Democrat House of Representatives remains to be seen.

President Biden is expecting more resistance at the state level, from Republican governors and state attorney generals. Most took immediately to Twitter to express their disdain. 

“South Dakota will stand up to defend freedom, Joe Biden. See you in court,” Republican Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota tweeted. 

“Rest assured, we will fight them to the gates of hell to protect the liberty and livelihood of every South Carolinian,” Republican Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina tweeted.

“Have at it,” the president said, in response to a reporter’s question about mounting Republican claims of executive overreach.

The president was touring Washington D.C.’s Brookland Middle School in Washington at the time of the question.

“I am so disappointed that, particularly, some Republican governors have been so cavalier with the health of these kids. So cavalier with the health of their communities. We’re playing for real here. This isn’t a game.”

Republican Mark Brnovich, attorney general of the State of Arizona, obliged the president Sept. 15, making Arizona the first state to sue the federal government.

In a 14-page filing to the US District Court for the District of Arizona, Mr. Brnovich is requesting the federal court to apply strict scrutiny to what the Attorney General claims is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

“In a nutshell: unauthorized aliens will not be subject to any vaccination requirements even

when released directly into the United States (where most will remain), while roughly 100 million U.S. citizens will be subject to unprecedented vaccination requirements,” the lawsuit filing reads. “This reflects an unmistakable, and unconstitutional, brand of favoritism in favor of unauthorized aliens.”

The suit names President Joseph R. Biden; Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security; Troy Miller, Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and Tae Johnson, Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as defendants.

Other suits with other arguments are expected to follow. Georgia, Oklahoma and Wyoming Republicans have made similar threats as South Carolina, and South Dakota. The GOP, as a party, has also threatened to sue.

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