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Gov. Holcomb announces opposition to federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The governor said he is directing the Indiana Department of Labor to work with Attorney General Todd Rokita on a lawsuit challenging the mandate.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced his opposition to President Joe Biden's federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate on Thursday, expressing support for a lawsuit challenging the federal government.

“I direct the Indiana Department of Labor to work with the Attorney General on a lawsuit challenging the federal government regarding the OSHA ETS," Holcomb said in a statement. "This is an overreach of the government’s role in serving and protecting Hoosiers. While I agree that the vaccine is the tool that will best protect against COVID-19, this federal government approach is unprecedented and will bring about harmful, unintended consequences in the supply chain and the workforce.”

RELATED: Vaccine mandate rules affecting 84 million Americans finalized

Holcomb's announcement came shortly after rules were finalized by the federal government requiring that tens of millions of Americans who work at companies with 100 or more employees will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or face weekly testing.

More than two dozen Republicans serving as state attorneys general have indicated they plan to sue the federal government over the measure, arguing that only Congress can enact such sweeping requirements.

RELATED: Senators Braun, Young challenge Biden's federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate

U.S. senators from Indiana, Mike Braun and Todd Young, have joined a group of dozens of senators using the Congressional Review Act to challenge the mandate.

Attorney General Todd Rokita and the Labor Department lawsuits against the federal government argue only Congress can make a sweeping "vaccine mandate.” 

“This is a direct attack on state's rights. This is a direct attack on individual liberties and freedom and it’s a complete overreach of the federal government,” Rokita said.  

Rokita also joined other attorneys general to file a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. He will soon file additional lawsuits against the two other federal vaccine mandates announced Thursday.  

“Hoosiers and all Americans need effective leadership from President Biden that shows respect for their rights,” Rokita said. “Such leadership requires an approach quite different from imposing these intrusive federal mandates that tilt toward tyranny.”  

Top Indiana Democrats also weighed in on the mandates and the state's new lawsuit.  

They say it's the responsibility of state and federal leaders to help Hoosiers put the pandemic behind us and argued Indiana needs more people to get vaccinated to move forward.  

“Hoosiers are right. It is their freedom and choice to receive a life-saving COVID-19 vaccine. It’s also the responsibility of state and federal government leaders to help Hoosier families put the pandemic behind us. Unfortunately, the culture war Indiana Republicans created about vaccines and its benefits consistently put Indiana steps away from returning to pre-COVID normal life. The INGOP’s extreme partisanship is dictating this situation, and what Indiana needs is for more people to get vaccinated so we can move forward,” said Lauren Ganapini, executive director of the Indiana Democratic Party. 

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