(Washington) US and Southwest airlines signaled Tuesday that they would pre-empt a federal law mandated by Joe Biden to force the vaccine on their employees, thus defying a new Texas law opposing the vaccination obligation.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that he has prohibited all of his state’s entities, including private companies, from imposing the vaccine on their employees or consumers.
But White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that “federal law prevails over federal state law.”
However, the US president, after long refusing to make binding decisions, said a month ago that vaccination against COVID-19 would become mandatory for about 100 million workers, civil servants, employees of federal government contractors and companies with more than 100 people.
The rules for all of these categories have yet to be set, but as contractors with the federal government, airlines are expected to mandate vaccination for their employees starting December 8.
Texas-based American Airlines and Southwest Airlines said Tuesday that they would instead follow federal law.
“We are in the process of reviewing Governor Abbott’s executive order, but we believe the federal vaccine mandate takes precedence over all state laws, and that doesn’t change anything for Americans,” a US spokesperson said in a letter. to Agence France-Presse.
Southwest, for its part, maintains that in order to comply with the rules applicable to government contractors, it must “comply with presidential decree”.
“We will continue to closely monitor all instructions provided and keep our employees informed of any potential changes to current policies,” the company said in a letter.
However, the Biden administration has yet to publish the rules that will frame the practical application of this commitment at the other private companies involved.
“There is no real historical precedent for [cette obligation vaccinale dans les entreprises] “And we want to do a good job,” explained the White House spokesman, when asked about the implementation deadline.
Gene Psaki also considered that the decision of the Governor of Texas was above all “political”.
“When you make a decision that is contrary to current public health information and data, which is not based on the interests of the people you are ruling, it may be in your political interest,” she criticized.
The announcement of the vaccine demand sparked an uproar among Republicans who see it as a violation of individual liberty.
Greg Abbott, who is known to have been staunchly opposed to his requirement to wear a mask, tested positive for COVID-19 in August after attending a public indoor event. The governor was fully vaccinated.
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