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Missouri attorney general will challenge federal vaccine mandates in court

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said he will file a lawsuit this week to stop federal coronavirus vaccine mandates for contractors and contracted employees. 

Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, has been vocally opposed to federal efforts to require COVID-19 vaccinations. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in September mandating federal contractors receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and a deadline of Dec. 8 was later imposed. 

Republicans and certain businesses and trade organizations have flat out decried the mandate or asked for the deadline to be extended. 

On Wednesday, Schmitt said he would file a lawsuit to prevent federal contractors or contracted employees from being required to be vaccinated. He decried “power-hungry bureaucrats” and noted his office has often challenged the federal government since Biden entered the White House. 

“The Biden administration is seeking to use the full weight of the federal government to force federal contractors to mandate vaccinations. This is blatant, frightening federal overreach,” Schmitt said. “My office will file a lawsuit to halt this mandate on federal contractors by the end of the week, and stand ready, willing, and able to file suit against the employer vaccine mandate when OSHA publishes their forthcoming rule.” 

Schmitt has challenged the Biden administration as Missouri’s attorney general on a myriad of issues, from family-planning clinic funding to immigration

Biden has also called for businesses with at least 100 employees to ensure everyone is vaccinated against COVID-19 or endure weekly testing. 

When the president first announced his vaccination plans, Gov. Mike Parson pushed back, saying it was “potentially dangerous” for working families. Parson, too, has vowed a legal challenge to the federal government’s mandate. 

“The Biden administration’s recent announcement seeking to dictate personal freedom and private business decisions is an insult to our American principles of individual liberty and free enterprise,” Parson said in September. “This heavy-handed action by the federal government is unwelcome in our state and has potentially dangerous consequences for working families.”

Representatives from Missouri’s business and health care communities warned lawmakers during a recent House hearing of potential ramifications from a sweeping vaccine mandate. 

“The entire health care industry right now, the health care system right now, is burned out,” Nikki Strong, executive director of the Missouri Health Care Association, said at the time. “To put additional strain and pressure on our workers who — for whatever reason, whatever belief they have, whether it’s taking the vaccine, taking a test daily, or whatever that mandate may be — is going to continue to decimate our workforce.” 

Meanwhile, business groups have implored the White House to move the deadline as concerns over shipping delays and worker shortages have already put a strain on the upcoming holiday season.