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Are Biden’s vaccine requirements legal?

Shortly after President Biden announced a new vaccine mandate to combat the recent COVID-19 surge driven by the Delta variant, some conservative governors vowed to file lawsuits challenging the plan . Some already have.

On Tuesday, Arizona became the first to sue the Biden administration over COVID-19 vaccine mandates .

In an address to the nation Sept. 9, Biden outlined his multi-step “Out of the Pandemic” plan, which includes vaccine mandates that will affect about 100 million Americans — two-thirds of all workers. Under Biden’s plan, the federal government will require all federal executive branch workers, as well as all employees of federal contractors, to be vaccinated.

Previously, federal employees had the option to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing.

“If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated,” Biden said. “If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce,” he added.

This vaccine order will cover about 90 percent of approximately 4 million federal employees. However, it does not apply to non-executive branch employees, such as members of Congress or judicial employees.

The question for many was whether such a mandate will stand up to legal challenges.

Robert Field, professor of law and public health at Drexel University, told Yahoo News that President Biden’s mandates for federal employees are “clearly constitutional” because “it is within the president’s power to control the executive branch and the people who work for it.”

The new Biden proposal also requires anyone who works in a hospital, home health care environment or other medical facility that treats patients on Medicare and Medicaid to be vaccinated. This was already a requirement for health care workers in nursing homes receiving funding from the federal programs.

The decision will cover a total of 17 million health care workers.

Field says Biden is also “on very clear footing” when it comes to this part of the new mandate, because federal agencies can set requirements for federal funding to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

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