On Thursday evening, President Joe Biden unveiled two executive orders that could mandate COVID vaccinations for millions of working Americans in both the public and private spheres. But absent from these mandates are similar requirements for members of Congress, federal judges, or their staffers.
Biden’s executive orders would unilaterally require vaccination for federal employees, the military, and government contractors. The president also asked Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require that firms with over 100 employees either mandate vaccination or weekly CCP virus tests. In total, these mandates could affect over 100 million American workers, making it one of the widest-reaching vaccine mandates in world history.
Biden wrote, “It is the policy of my Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures.”
The order continued, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by the Delta variant or other variants is to be vaccinated.”
In the second section, Biden lays out this rigorous policy, requiring all executive agencies to “implement, to the extent consistent with applicable law, a program to require COVID-19 vaccination for all of its Federal employees, with exceptions only as required by law.” Such exemptions are few and strictly defined.
The order would cover civilian employees of executive offices like the State Department and Department of Defense, and would also require all military personnel to receive the vaccine. In total, this no-excuses order would affect millions of civilian and non-civilian federal employees.
The president went beyond this, however, laying out a framework that would require private-sector employers to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for their employees. To achieve this, Biden turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency tasked with ensuring that companies protect the safety of their employees.