On Tuesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued an executive order restricting the use of COVID-19 “vaccine passports,” as many Republicans rally against the concept, which allows individuals to provide proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Everyday, Texans are returning to normal life as more people get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. But, as I’ve said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a video statement on Tuesday.
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“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal private health information just to go about their daily lives,” the governor added. “That is why I have issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health—and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”
The executive order prohibits state agencies, political subdivisions, and organizations who receive taxpayer money from creating “vaccine passports” or mandating individuals to present evidence of COVID-19 vaccination in order to receive goods and services.
Another Republican governor, Ron DeSantis of Florida, last week signed an executive order banning the use of vaccine passports. He went a step further than Abbott and also prevented businesses from requiring customers to provide proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Many Republicans have expressed data, privacy, and civil liberties concerns with the adoption of vaccine passports. Proponents, on the other hand, argue that the measure will allow the reopening of the U.S. economy to speed up, as well as international travel.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and President Joe Biden’s top COVID-19 adviser, in a Monday interview with the Politico Dispatch podcast that he doubts “the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
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Multiple states launch lawsuit against Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan
Breaking Thursday, the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, and South Carolina joined together to file a lawsuit against President Biden’s administration in order to stop the student loan-forgiveness program from taking effect.
“In addition to being economically unwise and downright unfair, the Biden Administration’s Mass Debt Cancellation is yet another example in a long line of unlawful regulatory actions,” argued the plaintiffs in their filing.
The attorneys general spearheading the legal challenge also submit that “no statute permits President Biden to unilaterally relieve millions of individuals from their obligation to pay loans they voluntarily assumed.”
Biden, however, has argued that he is able to unilaterally cancel student debt to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, writes National Review, a Department of Education memo released by his administration asserts that the HEROES Act, which passed in 2003 and allows the secretary of education to provide student-debt relief “in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency,” provides the legal basis for the cancellation.
But, National Review notes that the plaintiffs point out that Biden declared in a recent 60 Minutes interview that “the pandemic is over.”
The legal brief also adds:
“The [HEROES] Act requires ED [Education Department] to tailor any waiver or modification as necessary to address the actual financial harm suffered by a borrower due to the relevant military operation or emergency… This relief comes to every borrower regardless of whether her income rose or fell during the pandemic or whether she is in a better position today as to her student loans than before the pandemic.”
Moreover, they argue that the HEROES Act was designed to allow the secretary to provide relief in individual cases with proper justification.
The first lawsuit against Biden’s executive order came Tuesday from the Pacific Legal Foundation:
“The administration has created new problems for borrowers in at least six states that tax loan cancellation as income. People like Plaintiff Frank Garrison will actually be worse off because of the cancellation. Indeed, Mr. Garrison will face immediate tax liability from the state of Indiana because of the automatic cancellation of a portion of his debt,” wrote PLF in their own brief.
The state-led lawsuit was filed in a federal district court in Missouri, and asks that the court “temporarily restrain and preliminarily and permanently enjoin implementation and enforcement of the Mass Debt Cancellation,” and declare that it “violates the separation of powers established by the U.S. Constitution,” as well as the Administrative Procedure Act.
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