Congressional action shows OSHA vaccine mandate is a bald-faced power grab


Presidents of both parties wrongly have expanded the unilateral executive policy playbook, but President BidenJoe BidenAustralia agrees to .5 billion tank deal with US: report Jim Jordan rejects Jan. 6 panel’s request to cooperate in investigation SALT change on ice in the Senate MORE and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSALT change on ice in the Senate Lawmakers take stock of election laws in wake of Jan. 6 anniversary Sunday shows – Voting rights in the spotlight after Jan. 6 anniversary MORE (D-Calif.) are still teaching a master class in unaccountable and undemocratic government with respect to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s private employer vaccine mandate. While most news coverage has focused on the court challenges to OSHA’s questionable order, White House and congressional leaders are also doing backflips to prevent Congress from voting on the matter — and hoping no one notices.

In early December, a bipartisan group of senators forced a vote and approved a joint resolution to end OSHA’s vaccine mandate. So far, the House has been prevented from voting on either the Senate-passed resolution or a companion House resolution with 212 cosponsors. It seems OSHA’s broad use of emergency powers is less about “efficient” government action during a time of crisis and more about imposing mandates and restrictions that never would pass the democratic process.

The end-run around the legislative process last year didn’t start with the vaccine mandates. When Speaker Pelosi wanted to extend a legally unauthorized Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, she didn’t try to enact a law — which would have resolved the dispute over congressional authority. Never mind that she is the most powerful legislator in the country, whose party controlled the presidency and both chambers of Congress. Instead, she petitioned unelected bureaucrats at the CDC to extend an emergency regulation that a majority of Supreme Court justices already had questioned and later struck down.

So when President Biden wanted a private-employer vaccine mandate this fall, he didn’t ask congressional leaders to pass a law conferring that authority. The recent Senate vote confirms that Congress would not have granted it, as our political rulers surely knew. Instead, almost a year after a vaccine became widely available, the Biden administration invoked an emergency provision of the Occupational Safety and Health Act to force those who employ more than 100 people to require vaccinations or weekly COVID testing.

Like the CDC eviction moratorium before it, the OSHA vaccine rule is tied up in litigation. One federal appellate court issued a nationwide injunction in November, ruling that the vaccine mandate was likely unlawful. Although a divided panel of another appellate court assigned to decide the consolidated legal challenges overturned the stay in December, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the matter on an expedited basis. Congress is normally all too happy to punt to the courts on controversial issues, but the pending litigation has not stopped many in Congress from stepping up to perform their duties. 

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Congressional action shows OSHA vaccine mandate is a bald-faced power grab

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