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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott attacked President Joe Biden on Thursday after Biden ordered large employers to require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or to have frequent tests to show they have no virus.
Abbott, who has resisted making vaccines mandatory in any form in Texas, to the point of preventing local governments and school districts from enacting their own vaccine mandates, christened the Biden movement to force companies with more of 100 employees to get their shot or send a negative COVID-19 test result each week “a power take”. The general order would cover approximately 80 million American workers.
“The federal government must stop trying to run private companies,” Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said in a statement. “Texans and Americans have learned and mastered safe practices to protect themselves and their loved ones from COVID and don’t need the government to tell them how to do it.”
Abbott has encouraged jeans to be vaccinated, but insists they should not be forced to do so. At the governor’s request, state lawmakers will consider legislation banning local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccines for their residents when they are convened later this month for a third special session.
“The mandate of the Biden vaccine is an assault on private companies,” Abbott tweeted Thursday evening. “Texas is already working to stop this takeover.”
Meanwhile, the office of Governor and Attorney General Ken Paxton is already preparing a lawsuit against the Biden administration, Eze said.
There are legal precedents in favor of Biden that establish the federal government’s authority to demand vaccines, said Larry Stuart, a Houston labor lawyer, who pointed to a 1905 Supreme Court case in which judges ruled that states they could apply the mandatory smallpox vaccinations.
“I think the reality is that this will normalize and spread a lot more,” Stuart said. “People who have opposed it for political or information-based reasons who may have a scientific basis or may not find themselves with some difficult options to get vaccinated or be unemployed.”
Despite this, Glenn Hamer, the CEO of the Texas Business Association, said he felt the policy set a “terrifying precedent” that could justify any kind of regulation on businesses.
“While certain special interests have a direct line with the White House, our nation’s employers have been left out,” Hamer said, but did not specify the special interests he was referring to.
Bob Harvey, CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, applauded Biden’s decision to order the vaccines, but also said the “details are important” for the government not to put “an undue burden on businesses.” Harvey stressed the importance of allowing employees to be tested frequently rather than inoculated.
Less than half of jeans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Across the country, this percentage stands at around 53%, a figure that has frustrated the Biden administration in light of the widespread availability of free vaccine doses.
“We have been patient, but our patience is running out,” Biden said during statements to the White House. “And your refusal has cost us all.”
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