Today, Education and Labor Committee Republican Leader Virginia Foxx (R-NC) and Workforce Protections Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Keller (R-PA) sent a letter to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Assistant Secretary Douglas L. Parker to condemn OSHA’s forthcoming COVID-19 rule—which seeks to implement a permanent standard for health care industry employers, reviving the 2021 emergency temporary standard (ETS)—despite President Biden’s admission that the pandemic is over.
In the letter, the Members write:“You testified before the Committee on Education and Labor that the agency is working to finalize the ETS as a permanent COVID-19 standard for the health care industry and expects to issue a final standard this fall. In light of President Biden’s recent proclamation regarding the end of the pandemic, the impracticality of the forthcoming regulatory scheme, and OSHA’s questionable legal authority, we write to express our strong disapproval of your decision to move forward with this ill-advised rule and urge your agency to abandon it.”
It appears that OSHA did not get the President’s memo. At the same time President Biden proclaimed the pandemic over, his own administration continued to move forward with a COVID-19 rulemaking, not only reviving a regulatory scheme against health care industry employers that expired back in 2021 but also making the standard permanent,”the Members continue.“Our health care industry is strained enough as it is without the Biden administration demanding additional and burdensome COVID-19 requirements.”
“Given President Biden’s declaration of the end of the pandemic, the potential COVID-19 health care industry rule’s impracticality, and OSHA’s lack of authority, we urge OSHA to cease rulemaking on this ill-advised standard immediately. OSHA’s exploitation of the pandemic as an excuse to increase federal control over the workplace is damaging to America’s workers and job creators,” the Members conclude.
BACKGROUND: On June 21, 2021, OSHA issued an ETS which mandated workplace protections related to COVID-19 for employers in the health care industry. OSHA withdrew the COVID-19 ETS on December 27, 2021. The Biden administration now seeks to implement a permanent standard codifying the ETS.