US President Joe Biden
Federal agencies in the United States are preparing to take punitive action against employees who are not complying with President Joe Bidenís controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Some agencies plan to notify unvaccinated federal employees that they might get suspended, The Hill reported on Sunday. Many are also considering firing workers for failing to comply with the vaccine requirement, though that option is reserved for further down the road.
Federal workers have mostly complied with the administrationís vaccine mandate, and government agencies believe suspensions or firings will not cause major disruptions.
The deadline for federal workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 was November 24, when 92 percent of the 3.5 million federal employees had received at least one dose of a vaccine.
As the deadline approached, the White House told federal agencies to wait until after the new year to take disciplinary action against those who had not complied with the rule. Now the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is greenlighting federal agencies to move forward with stricter measures at their discretion.
"Agencies continue to move forward with the process, including taking progressive disciplinary measures as necessary," an OMB spokesperson told The Hill.
The departments of Treasury, Transportation and Agriculture, as well as the General Services Administration, Social Security Administration and Nuclear Regulatory Commission are all expected to begin suspending employees in the coming weeks.
This comes as President Bidenís vaccine-or-testing mandate for large private businesses is facing roadblocks in the Supreme Court, where the conservative majority questioned whether the government has the legal authority to impellent the policy.
Hearing arguments in two cases on Friday, the conservative justices sounded sympathetic to business interests and Republican states that have challenged the vaccine mandate, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for companies with more than 100 employees.
The temporary requirement would force more than 80 million private employees to either get vaccinated or submit to weekly tests for COVID-19.
Supreme Court justices, meanwhile, seemed more open to the federal vaccine mandate, which states led by Missouri and Louisiana are asking the court to block nationwide.
The vaccine mandates for federal and private employees form a cornerstone of the Biden administrationís policy to combat a raging pandemic that has already killed roughly 835,000 Americans.