The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration announced it is ending the COVID-19 vaccination and testing rules that were struck down by the Supreme Court but vowed to continue efforts to make the rules permanent in the future.
"The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is withdrawing the vaccination and testing emergency temporary standard issued on Nov. 5, 2021, to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers with 100 or more employees from workplace exposure to coronavirus," the agency said in a statement Tuesday, noting that the withdrawal will go into effect Wednesday.
But the agency said it wasn't giving up on the mandate completely, vowing to work at making it a permanent rule.
"Although OSHA is withdrawing the vaccination and testing ETS as an enforceable emergency temporary standard, the agency is not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule," the statement said. "The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard."
OSHA's move to continue the effort to make the mandate a permanent rule drew the ire of First Liberty Institute, which represented three religious ministries to challenge the mandate.
"The Supreme Court made it clear that the President Biden administration’s attempt to federalize the nation’s workforce is blatantly unconstitutional," First Liberty Institute president, CEO and chief counsel Kelly Shackelford said of the announcement in a statement. "OSHA had no choice but to withdraw its unlawful ETS, but it needs to completely put an end to this dangerous government overreach. We will continue to fight on behalf of our clients and the American people to protect them from being forced to violate their faith."
The move comes after the Supreme Court struck down the mandate in a 6-3 ruling earlier this month, dealing a blow to part of President Biden's plan to make vaccines mandatory for more Americans.
"Although Congress has indisputably given OSHA the power to regulate occupational dangers, it has not given that agency the power to regulate public health more broadly," the majority wrote of the mandate.