RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and Attorney general-elect Jason Miyares plan to challenge the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Youngkin and Miyares announced Friday that after they take office on Jan. 15 they intend to include Virginia to the list of states and business groups trying to block vaccine rules imposed by President Joe Biden. Despite the plan, the mandates they aim to fight may not last very long.
“After the January 15th inauguration, the Commonwealth of Virginia will quickly move to protect Virginians’ freedoms and challenge President Biden’s unlawful CMS, OSHA, and Head Start vaccine mandates,” they wrote in a joint statement. “Removing some of the staffing barriers to our hospitals, will provide much needed relief for our overworked medical professionals.”
A federal judge in Louisiana has already blocked Biden’s mandate to require teachers in the Head Start early education program to be vaccinated, a rule Youngkin and Miyares said they would seek to challenge. The Biden administration has not yet said whether the federal government will appeal the decision.
Their announcement also comes on the day that several Republican-led states challenge the legality of Biden’s vaccine and testing rules for large employers and most health care workers in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The states have argued the mandates should be blocked because Biden did not get approval from Congress before imposing them, which the Louisiana federal judge noted in his ruling to stop the Head Start vaccine mandate.
“While we believe that the vaccine is a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19, we strongly believe that the Federal government cannot impose its will and restrict the freedoms of Americans and that Virginia is at its best when her people are allowed to make the best decisions for their families or businesses,” Youngkin and Miyares added.
On Monday, Miyares told 8News’ Jackie DeFusco that he would sign onto the lawsuits once he is sworn in if the Supreme Court extends the temporary pause on enforcement of the mandate for large businesses. But he acknowledged the court’s decision could keep him from making the move.
“I’ll abide by whatever is their final ruling because they are the final arbitrator of what the law is but my guess is there will be a temporary injunction and there will be space for me to get involved,” Miyares said.
The mandate for health care workers, issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, requires employees at facilities that receive the federal government funding to be fully vaccinated or be tested. Workers at nursing homes, hospitals and certain other facilities must be vaccinated under the mandate.