McMaster, Wilson say South Carolina will fight Biden’s vaccination order

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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said Thursday he will issue an executive order prohibiting cabinet agencies from enforcing COVID-19 vaccination mandates after the federal government ordered companies with more than 100 employees to vaccinate employees or submit to weekly testing by Jan. 4.

The federal order, announced by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), was expected since Biden issued an executive order Sept. 9 requiring the agency to develop guidelines and implement the mandate.

Under the same Biden order, the White House Safer Federal Workforce Task Force called for federal contractor employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8. The Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council on Sept. 30 implemented that order and since then, at least 19 states, led by Florida, have filed lawsuits challenging it.

All 26 Republican state attorneys general have issued comments and statements since September, vowing to legally contest the private employer vaccine mandate. Lawsuits will be filed by Friday, if not sooner, many said Thursday, including South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.

“This rule is garbage,” said Wilson, who chairs the Republican Attorneys General Association, through a spokesman Thursday. “It’s unconstitutional, and we will fight it.”

GOP attorneys general argue the OSHA does not have the legal authority to require vaccines or COVID-19 testing and only can regulate health risks specific to jobs, not general risks outside the workplace.

“Vaccinations for every employee have nothing to do with OSHA’s regulation of workplace safety,” Wilson later told reporters. “The president is flouting the rule of law to engage in federal overreach at its worst. He has little regard for the constitutional liberties of our citizens.”

McMaster said with ample vaccine supply and access, there is no need for “unconstitutional COVID-19 mandates (that) are forcing South Carolinians to choose between a vaccine and their jobs.”

If people want to be inoculated, they can. If they don’t want to, they don’t have to, the governor said.

“People have reasons to take the vaccine and not to,” McMaster said. “We have been stunned at the overreach of the Biden administration.”

In addition to prohibiting cabinet agencies from complying with the federal order, McMaster said South Carolina is one of eight states that have joined onto one of the lawsuits, this one led by Georgia, lodged against the federal contractor vaccination mandate.

The governor said he’d battle the Biden administration over vaccination mandates “to the gates of hell,” adding, “I have never seen a president go out of bounds, out of bounds of the law as this one.”

Under the OSHA rules, failure to comply with the Jan. 4 deadline could result in penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation. The rule also applies to all employees of all health care and nursing facilities, regardless of size, that receive Medicaid or Medicare funding.

Biden dismissed claims Thursday that the private employer vaccination mandate will hurt businesses by exacerbating the labor shortage.

“There have been no ‘mass firings’ and worker shortages because of vaccination requirements,” he said. “Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support.”

Not from what’s he is hearing from “numerous” employers who said the mandate will “crush” their business, Wilson said.

“As I’ve said before, this is not about whether vaccines are a good idea, this is about following the rule of law and not allowing a federal bureaucracy to abuse power and flout the law,” he said.

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