News » Texas News

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sues White House over new business vaccine rules

By

comment
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is on a crusade to enforce fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders barring government entities from requiring facemasks and vaccinations to combat COVID-19. - COURTESY PHOTO / TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy Photo / Texas Attorney General's Office
  • Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is on a crusade to enforce fellow Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s orders barring government entities from requiring facemasks and vaccinations to combat COVID-19.
Can't say we didn't see this one coming.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden White House on Friday over its new rule requiring large businesses to mandate vaccines for their workers or conduct frequent COVID-19 testing. The federal order, announced less than 24 hours ago, applies to private employers with staffs of 100 or more and takes effect January 4.

Biden's rule would preempt state and municipal laws, including GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on vaccine mandates in Texas, which Paxton, a fellow Republican, has sued multiple times to uphold.

In an emailed statement, Paxton called the Biden administration's new initiative  a "breathtaking abuse of federal power," echoing Abbott's frequent talking point that vaccination mandates trample Texans' individual rights.

Friday's lawsuit follows a week behind a separate suit Paxton filed against the White House for its requirement that federal contractors require vaccinations of their employees.

"Vaccination is the single best pathway out of this pandemic," Biden said Thursday in a statement about the rule extending vaccination requirements to large businesses. "And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements — and they are working."

Republican-controlled Texas and Florida have been in a neck-and-neck contest to openly defy the Biden administration's directives on COVID-19 protections. With 53.6% of its population vaccinated, Texas ranks 28th among U.S. states in overall vaccination rates, while Florida ranks 22nd with a vaccination rate of just shy of 60%.

A recent study in medical journal The Lancet used computer modeling to compare the Texas and Florida against states that have hit high vaccination benchmarks to determine how many cases, hospitalizations and deaths the two GOP-controlled states could have avoided.

Texas and Florida could have dodged a total of 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, 95,000 hospital admissions and 22,000 deaths, according to the analysis.

Stay on top of San Antonio news and views. Sign up for our Weekly Headlines Newsletter.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.