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Texas has joined a lawsuit to block Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine rules for private employers

People receive COVID-19 booster vaccination in Michigan
A nurses fills up syringes for patients as they receive their COVID-19 booster vaccination during a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination clinic in Southfield, Michigan, on Sept. 29, 2021.

Texas has joined four other states and seven private companies to sue the Biden administration over a COVID-19 vaccine rule for large private employers.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced the lawsuit Friday morning.

The new U.S. Department of Labor rule mandates businesses with more than 100 employees to come up with a COVID-19 vaccination plan that includes either mandating vaccines for employees or carrying out a testing program. The mandate will be implemented through the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

In a statement, Paxton called the mandate “a breathtaking abuse of federal power."

“This ‘standard' is flatly unconstitutional,” Paxton said. “Bottom line: Biden's new mandate is bad policy and bad law, and I'm asking the Court to strike it down.”

The petition was filed directly with the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, widely viewed as the most conservative appeals court in the country. It’s formally directed at the U.S. Labor Department, Labor Secretary Martin Walsh, OSHA, and Douglas Parker, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health.

Paxton said his next step will be to file a motion for stay, laying out the arguments for the appeals court to halt implementation of the mandate.

The rule, which Biden first announced in September, would would apply to an estimated 84 million workers nationwide. If an employee opts to get vaccinated, they would be forced to do so no later than Jan. 4, 2022.

This story was produced by Houston Public Media. Check for updates here.

Andrew Schneider | Houston Public Media