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Republican lawmakers and business groups are increasing pressure on the Biden administration to abandon efforts to develop an emergency workplace safety rule for Covid-19, calling a nationwide rulemaking unjustified given the vaccination campaign’s steady progress. The latest resistance to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s emergency temporary standard (ETS) comes as the White House’s formal review of the rule is now in its fifth week, a far longer period of analysis than worker advocates had anticipated. The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) has booked at least 43 meetings with interest groups, even though the emergency rulemaking process doesn’t require public outreach. GCCA and food industry coalition partners have previously met with OIRA on May 12 to share our thoughts and concerns about the potential ETS. Since the review began, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on May 13 issued guidance allowing fully vaccinated workers to stop wearing masks and observing social-distancing guidelines in most indoor settings. Vaccination numbers also have continued to rise steadily. As of Tuesday, May 25, 39.5% of U.S. residents were fully vaccinated and 49.5% had received at least one shot. The CDC’s relaxed guidance for vaccinated individuals and state actions make it unlikely OSHA can successfully argue that Covid-19 poses a “grave danger” to U.S. workers, a requirement for an emergency temporary standard, the lawmakers said. They argued that an emergency rulemaking was “unfathomable” in light of the “current state of the virus,” and charged that an “ill-timed” nationwide policy would slow the pace of economic recovery.
Read the Republican lawmaker’s letter HERE.