JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (WDAF) – Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt plans to sue the Biden administration over the recent COVID-19 vaccine and testing mandate that went into effect Thursday.
Shortly after the announcement that employees of big companies will be required to be vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022, or get tested weekly for the virus, Schmitt announced his plans to attempt to halt the federal mandate.
“The federal government does not have the authority to unilaterally force private employers to mandate their employees get vaccinated or foot the bill for weekly testing,” Schmitt wrote in his statement.
Schmitt said he spoke with several Missouri businesses who voiced their concerns over the federal mandate.
“We will be on file first thing tomorrow morning to halt this illegal, unconstitutional attempt by the Biden Administration and the federal government to impose their will on thousands of Missouri businesses and millions of Missourians,” Schmitt wrote Thursday. “Missouri will not roll over, we will not back down — we will file suit imminently.”
The new requirements, which were first previewed by President Joe Biden in September, will apply to about 84 million workers at medium and large businesses, although it is not clear how many of those employees are unvaccinated.
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Tougher rules will apply to another 17 million people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. Those workers will not have an option for testing and will need to be vaccinated.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said companies that fail to comply could face penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation.
It was unclear how OSHA planned to enforce the rules. A senior administration official said the agency would target companies if it gets complaints.
More than two dozen Republicans serving as state attorneys general have indicated plans to sue, arguing that only Congress can enact such sweeping requirements under emergency authority.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.