Thursday, May 30, 2024

16 attorneys general urge Congress to limit, rescind federal emergency powers

by BIZ Magazine

By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor

Sixteen attorneys general are urging members of Congress to modify, clarify, and rescind an emergency-use authorization authority still being used by federal agencies to mandate coronavirus-related policies.

The letter sent at the end of January to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and House Committee on Energy & Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers, both Republicans, relates to curtailing the authority of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Food and Drug Administration.

The AGs have requested that Congress override existing emergency-use authorization policies still in effect and to conduct rigorous oversight to establish what mistakes were made related to current and past implementation of the federal authority. They also asked Congress to “consider revising the liability protections provided by a prior Congress, and confirm what President [Joe] Biden has admitted and what the American people in their sound judgment know: any valid grounds for claiming a state of medical emergency due to COVID have ended; normalcy and the rule of law must be restored.”

Led by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, the coalition represents the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who has sued the administration over its COVID-related mandates, said the Biden administration “has attempted to use the pandemic as a pretext for instituting a number of unrelated left-wing policy objectives. HHS and FDA have also abused the emergency powers to force vaccine injections, which can have severe, adverse side effects on young children and healthy adults even though they are the least likely to be impacted by Covid-19.”

The attorneys general argue that HHS and FDA continue to misuse the authority granted to them for times of emergency, specifically relying on emergency powers “to justify numerous uses of novel vaccines that are not only failing to halt the transmission of COVID but are also exposing young people (who are least likely to be harmed by COVID) to unnecessary risks,” the letter states. “Shockingly,” they write, “the FDA is still invoking its emergency use authorization authority to push [COVID-19] vaccines out to infants.”

The agencies are doing so after Biden said “the pandemic is over” last September. He told 60 Minutes, “the pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. But the pandemic is over. If you notice, no one’s wearing masks. Everybody seems to be in pretty good shape, and so I think it’s changing …”

He made the remarks after his administration had sought for months to add another roughly $22 billion to the Omnibus spending bill to fund COVID-related programs, NPR reported at the time.

Despite these claims, the president and his administration are using emergency use authorization to justify “an unprecedented expansion of executive power.”

“From student loan forgiveness to a moratorium on evictions, the President and his Administration continue to attempt to push through an authoritarian agenda based on an emergency that, according to the President, does not exist,” the AGs wrote. “The idea that we are still in the midst of a medical emergency flies in the face of the facts on the ground. Yet, HHS and FDA continue to perpetrate the myth that an emergency exists to aggrandize their power at the expense of people’s freedom.”

They also called on Congress to clarify and amend the various statutory emergency authority provisions the agencies “have abused in their unrealistic and impractical quest to operate under emergency authority indefinitely” and to “narrow unilateral authority that agencies and the president have during times of emergency.”

They urged Congress “to move quickly” to “override any remaining emergency use authorizations for COVID vaccines, consider reforms to the sweeping liability shield created in 2005, and ensure that our liberties and system of government are robustly protected against any such future attempts at medical tyranny.”

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