Biden calls on employers to mandate vaccines despite Supreme Court ruling

President Biden on Thursday appealed to states and companies to require people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus despite the Supreme Court blocking his vaccine-or-test mandate for large employers.

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled 6-3 against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) mandate, blocking it from taking effect while other legal challenges play out. The rule would require companies with at least 100 employees to require workers either provide proof of vaccination or provide weekly negative coronavirus test results and wear face coverings to work. 

“As a result of the Court’s decision, it is now up to States and individual employers to determine whether to make their workplaces as safe as possible for employees, and whether their businesses will be safe for consumers during this pandemic by requiring employees to take the simple and effective step of getting vaccinated,” the president said in a statement.

The president vowed to put pressure on companies to voluntarily create their own vaccine-or-test requirements.

He said the Supreme Court ruling “does not stop me from using my voice as President to advocate for employers to do the right thing to protect Americans’ health and economy.”

“I call on business leaders to immediately join those who have already stepped up – including one third of Fortune 100 companies – and institute vaccination requirements to protect their workers, customers, and communities,” Biden added in his statement. 

He called the OSHA mandate a commonsense requirement and a “modest burden” on workers. 

“I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has chosen to block common-sense life-saving requirements for employees at large businesses that were grounded squarely in both science and the law,” he said. “This emergency standard allowed employers to require vaccinations or to permit workers to refuse to be vaccinated, so long as they were tested once a week and wore a mask at work: a very modest burden.”

Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in a statement in response to the ruling that “OSHA will be evaluating all options to ensure workers are protected from this deadly virus.”

He said he was also disappointed in the court’s decision, calling it a setback on health and safety for workers and said that OSHA stands by the standard as the “best way to protect the nation’s workforce.”

The Supreme Court also on Thursday ruled 5-4 to uphold a vaccine mandate for health providers at federally-funded facilities, a move that Biden said “will save lives.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday called the health providers ruling “good news” and news that “maybe isn’t getting enough attention.” 

“Requirements for health care workers to be vaccinated will save the lives of patients as well as the lives of doctors, nurses, and others who work in health care settings,” she said.

She also put the responsibility on employers when asked in the White House briefing about the Supreme Court’s decision. 

The decision “essentially means that in this pandemic, it is up to individual employers to determine whether their workplaces will be safe for employees and whether their businesses will be safe for consumer,” she said.

She pointed to the White House encouraging private companies to impose their own mandates again when asked if Biden will try a mandate again or accept what the Supreme Court decided.

Psaki cited polling that show 57 percent of Americans support vaccine requirements “because employees want to feel safe in the workplace, because they want to incentivize workers to come back to the workplace and because they’ve seen a large companies across the country implement this and see how effective this is.” 

When asked what kind of impact the Supreme Court decision will have on the administration’s efforts to combat COVID-19, Psaki said officials are encouraging people to get boosted.

She added that the administration will continue to work with employees and workers to “convey very clearly what the benefits of vaccine or testing requirements would be on workplaces.”

Updated 5:08 p.m.

Tags Jen Psaki Joe Biden Marty Walsh

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