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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit targets the federal vaccine mandate for contractors.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit targets the federal vaccine mandate for contractors. (Nick Wagner, Austin American-Statesman/TNS)

DALLAS (Tribune News Service) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration over an executive order that mandates vaccines for federal contractors, condemning the directive as “a dramatic infringement upon individual liberties, principles of federalism and separation of powers, and the rule of law.”

The lawsuit, filed Friday, seeks to stop enforcement of the mandate, which Biden announced in September. Under the order, companies that contract with the federal government must require their employees get vaccinated by Dec. 8.

Biden also has announced rules affecting private-sector companies with more than 100 employees and workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid funds — all told, about 100 million American workers. Private-sector employees have the option to test weekly instead of getting vaccinated; government contractors do not.

Paxton’s lawsuit targets only the mandate for contractors.

A coalition of 10 other states — including Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and New Hampshire — jointly filed a separate lawsuit over the contractor mandate on Friday.

In a written statement Friday, Paxton said the White House “has repeatedly expressed its disdain for Americans who choose not to get a vaccine, and it has committed repeated and abusive federal overreach to force upon Americans something they do not want.”

“The federal government does not have the ability to strip individuals of their choice to get a vaccine or not,” Paxton said.

Paxton’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, describes the mandate as an illegal overreach and says it will exacerbate worker shortages and potentially cause Texas to lose out on billions in federal contracts.

Major companies, including Raytheon Technologies, which employs about 8,600 people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, have said the mandate might cost them thousands of workers.

The administration has “made it obvious that they will accept nothing less than complete obedience and compliance with their vision for how to fight COVID-19,” Paxton’s lawsuit says.

While more than 190 million Americans are fully vaccinated, both the country and Texas are running out of unvaccinated people who are willing to get their shots. While announcing the mandate in September, Biden said the unvaccinated minority “can cause a lot of damage, and they are.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order that sought to bar Texas companies from enforcing vaccine mandates. The White House accused him of playing politics at the expense of public health.

©2021 The Dallas Morning News.

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