Caught between a mandate and a madman

I have sympathy for the schools.

Many Texas universities — which collectively hold billions of dollars in federal contracts — are wrestling with how to navigate the Biden administration’s mandate that all federal contractors be vaccinated by Dec. 8 in a state that bans vaccine mandates.

While more public universities across the country are announcing that all employees must be vaccinated to comply with the federal requirement, several Texas public universities — all managed by Gov. Greg Abbott appointees — told The Texas Tribune they are still evaluating the executive order, which applies to new federal contracts of $250,000 or greater and awarded as of Nov. 14 or existing contracts that have been renewed as of Oct. 15.

“This is unprecedented,” said Michael LeRoy, a labor law expert at the University of Illinois College of Law. “There have been conflicts between the state and federal government, but not at this magnitude with this kind of money on the line.”

LeRoy believes the issue will be resolved in the courts because of the two conflicting issues at the center. State universities receive funding from the state and federal level but they are run by a board of regents appointed by the Texas governor.

While LeRoy said it’s unlikely the federal government will immediately terminate a grant if universities don’t comply, he said a university’s actions could impact future bids for federal grants. The federal government could begin to give notice to rescind a grant, he speculated, but that is a lengthy process. For now, universities are awaiting guidance from their own lawyers.

“… [T]he White House has been clear that noncompliance will not be excused, even in situations where state law contradicts the federal directive,” University of Houston spokesperson Shawn Lindsey told the Tribune in a statement. “It’s an extremely complicated situation that requires further analysis.”

Texas Tech University is working with its lawyers to determine if there are contracts that would trigger the vaccination requirement, school officials said in a statement. Texas Tech is also requesting guidance from the Texas attorney general’s office.

A Texas A&M University System spokesperson said they are also still evaluating the order. The A&M system has about 500 contracts with the federal government worth $2 billion, most of which are tied to the flagship university in College Station.

A statement from the University of Texas System revealed how universities are trying to appease both federal and state leaders.

“We will endeavor to comply with federal vaccine requirements for specific, covered individuals to protect these investments in our state,” spokesperson Karen Adler said in a statement. She then went on to say the system would provide exemptions for those with religious beliefs and “we will make every effort to accommodate employees’ personal situations.”

I think we can all guess what the AG’s office will say to Texas Tech, but the ritual must be observed. We’re all awaiting final guidance from OSHA, which is writing the rule that will implement that executive order. After that is when the lawsuits will fly. Not much else to say at this point, other than I do not envy any of these university officials the task they have before them.

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2 Responses to Caught between a mandate and a madman

  1. David Fagan says:

    17 days and counting………

  2. Jason Hochman says:

    First off, let me debunk LeRoy, who is obviously a self proclaimed expert. LeRoy keeps talking about grants, which are not contracts. Does this expert know the difference? Probably not. Also, the contract requirement is covered in the new FAR clause, 52.232-99. This clause is poorly written and doesn’t state anything, instead, it says to comply with guidance posted at a Web site that is called something like safe federal workforce. So, you get to this Website and there’s another link, and there are FAQs that are posing as guidance. First, it wouldn’t hold up to any court trial, and, second, the federal government hands out money willy nilly and if they audited all of their contracts, most of them are non compliant. Also, the penalty for noncompliance is not necessarily termination; remedies for breach are determined by the contract language, as well as any civil action that the parties may take.

    To my knowledge, OSHA still hasn’t cooked up any guidance for this nonsense. However, OSHA does have a statement on their FAQ page that they are suspending reporting under 29 CFR 1904 until at least May 2022. So, the vaccinations are “safe and effective” and guess what, we aren’t going to even take any reports to the contrary. Very easy to prove your point when all conflicting evidence is ignored.

    We also know from the Science that people who are vaccinated can and do get Covid and can transmit it to others. In fact, they are the most likely to do so, since they probably have less obvious signs and symptoms. This virus is endemic and life should get back to normal, instead of handing out billions of dollars to Big Pharma.

    I understand that it is cruel to criticize Biden because he’s so demented, and out of it, but the 25th amendment is needed to come out of retirement.

    And, it is time to stop listening to self proclaimed “experts” who don’t even know the difference between a grant and a contract, and don’t even comment on the relevant FAR clause. Indeed it is a complex situation, as the federal government tries to roll over state law, but the federal system has always worked this way. For example, federal highway funding to your state is contingent upon making a law against open containers in vehicles, etc.

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