Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to explain why Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has issued an executive order preventing private businesses from requiring Covid-19 vaccines for their employees.
During an interview on Fox News Sunday, Paxton argued that President Joe Biden and the federal government do not have the power to require companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for Covid-19.
Wallace pressed: "You say Texas companies should take care of their own workers so, given that, how do you justify the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, issuing an executive order that bans any business in Texas from issuing a vaccine mandate and how do you justify the governor issuing a ban on all school districts on mask mandates -- a ban that was overturned just this week by a federal judge?"
"So I justify it -- the governor has the authority under state law in an emergency," Paxton replied. "And so he has done just that. Obviously, it's his view that these mask mandates are unnecessary and that vaccine requirements are also unnecessary so it's my job as the state's attorney to go defend what he's done and what the legislature has done and I'm perfectly comfortable doing that."
"You said that Texas companies should take care of their own workers," Wallace tried again. "Is that consistent with the governor's executive order and your enforcement of that order, which bans companies from taking care of their own workers as they see fit?"
But Paxton insisted that Biden "doesn't have the authority to force companies" to require vaccines.
"Yeah, but you said that the businesses should take care of their own workers and the governor is saying they can't take care of their own workers as they see fit," Wallace said. "They're prohibited from deciding, if they so choose, to issue a vaccine mandate. That's not consistent."
"We're dealing with different types of requirements here," Paxton argued. "We've got state government requirements. So it's clear that the governor has a different executive order than [the federal government] and we've been in all types of litigation with school districts and counties, trying to stop them from forcing mandates in San Antonio and vaccines and we've been successful."
Wallace again attempted to get a straight answer from Paxton.
"I just want to go through this one more time," he remarked. "You're saying that they should have the authority and the ability to decide what their workers should do. The governor's executive order prohibits them from deciding what they want to do. He bans vaccine mandates."
"I think your question is a little confusing," Paxton complained. "But yes, the federal government has no authority to do this. Right now, we have OSHA guidelines that have not been authorized by the Congress. They absolutely have no authority to do this. The governor has a different authority under state law that the legislature has given him and he's operating under that state law."
"So he can tell private businesses what to do?" Wallace interrupted. "It's OK and they can't take care of their own?"
But Paxton refused to back down, asserting that "the states have more authority over these areas than the federal government."
"And I would even question whether Congress has the authority," he added.