Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sunday tied himself in knots as he was repeatedly pressed on the contradictory nature of comments he made about President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate for large businesses.
In a clip of Paxton that “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace played from earlier in the week, the attorney general said businesses should "take care of their own workers."
"I would urge businesses, don't listen to the president. He's bullying Americans. He's bullying businesses. And what they should do is take care of their own businesses. Take care of their own workers," Paxton said in the clip.
Wallace then asked Paxton how he would justify an executive order from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott banning vaccine requirements and mask mandates in school districts, if businesses should take care of their workers as they see fit. Paxton didn't answer the question.
"The governor has authority under state law in an emergency to respond to these types of issues. And so he's done just that," Paxton said. "Obviously it is his view that these mask mandates are unnecessary and that vaccine requirements are also unnecessary. So it's my job as a state's attorney to go defend what he is done and what the Legislature has done. I'm perfectly comfortable doing that."
When pressed a second time, Paxton said his message in the clip was that Biden doesn't have the authority to issue such a mandate.
In a third time asking the question, Wallace called the stance "inconsistent."
"Are you saying there is a difference between a mandate to get a vaccine from the federal government is different in terms of the ability to take care of their own, from a state mandate not to have vaccine mandates?" Wallace pressed.
"Your question is confusing," Paxton responded, before adding that the governor has this authority under state law.
Wallace then asked: "So he can tell private businesses what to do? It's OK, and they can't take care of their own."
"I definitely agree that states have more authority over these areas than the federal government. The federal government has limited authority. And if Congress has not granted that authority to OSHA — and I would even question whether Congress has authority. Yes, states have a lot of authority to deal with what's going on in their states. And I think that's been clear from the founding of our country," Paxton said, ending the back and forth.
Once the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced its new workplace regulations for the mandate in early November, Paxton filed a petition for review with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging the validity of the administration's mandate. The attorneys general of Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Utah joined the petition. More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed in various appeals courts by businesses, religious organizations and states, arguing the vaccine-or-test requirement exceeds OSHA's authority.
The U.S. appeals court put a stay on Biden's vaccine requirement for companies with 100 workers or more last week, and the court upheld its decision on Friday, rejecting a challenge from the administration.
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