OSHA faces big challenge with Biden vaccine mandate | TheHill

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President Biden will be relying heavily on a small division of the Labor Department to implement his new vaccine mandate for the private sector, posing perhaps the biggest test for an office that has faced funding and personnel challenges in recent years.
President Biden Joe BidenOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Democrats hope Biden can flip Manchin and Sinema On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles MORE will be relying heavily on a small division of the Labor Department to implement his new vaccine mandate for the private sector, posing perhaps the biggest test for an office that has faced funding and personnel challenges in recent years.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), largely understaffed during the Trump administration, is now tasked with crafting Biden's emergency rule on COVID-19 vaccines and testing that will apply to companies with at least 100 employees.

The high-profile role is likely to make OSHA a target of attacks from many Republicans and those in the business community who view the mandate as government overreach.

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"OSHA's never been a beloved agency for Republicans. They've always gone after OSHA for interfering with corporate autonomy," said Jordan Barab, former OSHA deputy assistant secretary in the Obama administration.

At the end of the Trump administration, the agency had 862 federal inspectors, almost 100 less than at the end of the previous two administrations, according to figures compiled by the National Employment Law Project.

"This president inherited sort of a hollowed-out agency," said Debbie Berkowitz, chief of staff and senior policy adviser for OSHA during the Obama administration.

"The last administration and the Republicans in Congress made sure that the OSHA budget did not go up but salaries go up and other costs go up, which means they had less money to keep the current staff, so when people left they couldn't fill positions."

Funding for OSHA established during the Trump administration stands at nearly $591.8 million. Biden has requested $664.6 million for the agency, starting Oct. 1, while House Democrats are seeking $692 million. Lawmakers have yet to…
Alex Gangitano
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