Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in response to what he called “intimidation” by the Biden Administration, on Monday banned all COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the state by any entity, including private employers.
Abbott’s move sets him up for a showdown with President Joe Biden, a Democrat who last month asked companies across the country to order their workers vaccinated or lose their jobs. Since then, at least several thousand people have been fired for refusing to comply.
“In another federal overreach case, the Biden Administration is now intimidating many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster,” Abbott said in an executive order.
The White House had no immediate comment.
Abbott’s order states that “no entity in Texas” could require proof of vaccination from any individual, including employees or customers. He called on state legislators to address the issue in an upcoming special session.
Tech giants Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google have told employees they would need proof of vaccination to return to their offices. Both companies employ large numbers of people in Texas.
Fort Worth-based American Airlines, the largest U.S. airline, told its 100,000 U.S.-based employees last week that they must present proof of complete vaccination no later than Nov. 24, or be fired.
United Airlines imposed a vaccination mandate on its 60,000 employees, about 9,000 of whom are based in Texas.
The company is defending a lawsuit filed in Fort Worth, and a federal judge on Wednesday will hear a request from United employees for a court order to prevent the airline from firing those who requested exemptions.
Biden issued his term in September as his administration struggled to control the pandemic, which has killed more than 700,000 Americans.
Political leaders in the United States have increased pressure on the unvaccinated in recent weeks.
Laws requiring vaccine testing are deeply controversial in the United States, and many Americans criticize them as unconstitutional and authoritarian.
Proponents of the vaccine mandates see them as necessary to lift the nation out of the nearly two-year pandemic and return to normalcy.