Flood of Negative Public Comments Preceded OSHA Vaccine Mandate Suspension

By Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
HillFaith Founding Editor, Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times, FOIA Hall of Fame, Reaganaut, Okie/Texan.
November 23, 2021 Updated: November 23, 2021

More than 68,000 mostly negative public comments greeted President Joe Biden’s proposed Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) rule that would force thousands of businesses to require employees to be vaccinated against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus or submit to a rigorous schedule of testing.

The Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) was proposed by OSHA on Nov. 5, with 30 days of public comment in the Federal Register. The ETS would require all private businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or testing and to terminate those who refuse to comply.

Within a few days, the Federal Register was swamped with more than 20,000 comments, virtually all of which were opposed to the proposal. The total exceeded 38,000 after a week and stood at 68,378 as of midnight on Nov. 22.

The OSHA mandate was suspended on Nov. 5 by the U.S. Appeals Court for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans. The Biden administration asked the court to remove the suspension on Nov. 23.

The Federal Register doesn’t publish information about a commenter other than a name unless such information is specifically provided by the individual. Comments aren’t compiled as favoring or opposing a proposal until the comment period is completed.

A cursory survey of the comments published thus far included this one from “K.S. Eden:”

“Why are [you] stepping into the medical field? OSHA, you are an administration to protect workers from occupational health and safety hazards, i.e. hazardous and toxic substances and waste materials, back injuries, fall protection, machine guarding, electrical safety, asbestos, slips, trips, falls, etc.”

Similarly, a lengthy comment from “Shiers, Scot” ended with:

“In summation, I feel that without more time to study the long term effects to HUMANS of the new mRNA vaccines, they could potentially represent a GREATER health hazard to the American workforce than an infectious disease that is likely to have [less than] 1% mortality rate among healthy individuals. And this is not even considering allowable ‘off label’ use of post infection therapeutics.”

And “Ivan Price” declared in his comment that he will “not be getting the vaccine.”

“No employer can or should coerce employees to take part in an experimental gene therapy. This tyranny stops when we say NO MORE. I will not comply,” Price’s comment reads.

The comments weren’t unanimously opposed to the proposal, as seen in that of “Foley, Thomas H.,” who wrote:

“Because the consequences of hospitalization or death to the unvaccinated employee are higher than the vaccinated employee and that there is still a chance of hospitalization or death to the vaccinated employee, the ETS should be updated to require face coverings and weekly testing for all employees based on current science. To not update the standard based on this new study would put all employees, regardless of vaccination status, at risk.”

The Epoch Times asked Heritage Foundation Research Fellow Rachel Greszler to put the flood of comments into perspective.

“I think that is kind of astronomical, actually,” she said.

By comparison, Greszler noted that OSHA issues few ETS proposals, but the most recent one before the vaccine mandate was issued in July regarding occupational exposure to the CCP virus, and it generated only 471 comments.

Greszler said she reviewed comment totals on recently published proposed rules.

“There are huge ranges, of course, so you have these little ones like on climate change and federal acquisitions that got 12 comments. There was a Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) rule about removing the inability to communicate in English that got 214 comments,” she said.

“What I thought was a big number of comments before regarded independent contractor status where you had free-lancers, people working for themselves and so forth, and that had had 4,300 comments.”

Greszler said a proposed rule on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) had received 8,600 comments.

Heritage Action for America Executive Director Jessica Anderson told The Epoch Times that the flood of comments reflects the fact that the proposed rule mandating COVID-19 vaccinations is an example of government overreach.

“The Biden Administration is claiming power it doesn’t have to dictate the personal medical decisions of millions of Americans, but we are fighting back. This example of Americans taking action proves the power of the grassroots’ ability to mobilize and stand up against these top-down mandates from Washington,” she said.

Anderson’s group actively encouraged its members to submit comments and included links to the Federal Register to help them do so.

More than a dozen state attorneys general are suing in federal court to stop the Biden mandate, as have multiple public interest law firms representing media organizations, colleges, and individuals. The many court challenges to the mandate have been consolidated into one court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Republicans on the House Education and Labor Committee are backing a Congressional Review Act joint resolution declaring that OSHA has no constitutional authority to issue the mandate.

“The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals made it abundantly clear—this vaccine mandate exceeds the bounds of OSHA’s authority as well as the authority of the federal government,” Rep. Virginia Fox (R-N.C.), the top Republican on the Education and Labor panel, told The Epoch Times. “President Biden’s attempt to force American business owners to be his testing and vaccine police is a massive and inappropriate abuse of power. President Biden should do his own dirty work instead of putting more burdens on our job creators.”

Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.), who introduced the resolution, told The Epoch Times on Nov. 23: “Never before in its 50-year history has [OSHA] been corrupted into imposing such an oppressive mandate onto the American people. These are the hardworking men and women who go to work every day and provide for their families.”

Keller is the top Republican on the committee’s workforce protections subcommittee.

“We are fighting to nullify this rule through our Congressional Review Act resolution, which sends a clear message to this administration: Americans will not tolerate such blatant overreach on the part of the federal government,” he said.

A spokesman for the Democratic majority on the education and labor panel didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mark Tapscott
Congressional Correspondent
HillFaith Founding Editor, Congressional Correspondent for The Epoch Times, FOIA Hall of Fame, Reaganaut, Okie/Texan.