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Texas AG Ken Paxton sues Biden administration over Head Start mask, vaccine mandates

In a statement, Paxton said "the freedom and liberty of all Americans is at stake."

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is again suing the Biden administration, this time over the implementation of a mask and vaccine mandate for staff and volunteers at the Head Start early childhood education program.

The rule will require all Head Start staff, contractors and volunteers be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 31, 2022, and universal masking for all individuals over the age of 2. The rule allows exemptions to vaccination for those who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions or religious beliefs. Those granted an exemption are required to be tested weekly for COVID-19.

Health experts recommend vaccines and masks as some of the best tools to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But Paxton’s lawsuit argues the rule will hurt Head Start because it may lead to staff resignations and parents pulling their children out of the program. In a statement, Paxton said “the freedom and liberty of all Americans is at stake.”

The lawsuit argues the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services does not have the authority to issue vaccine mandates without authorization from Congress. Defendants, including Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, say they have “statutory authority to protect the health and safety of Head Start participants and their families and ensure the continuation of services,” according to the lawsuit.

Paxton filed a preliminary injunction on Tuesday to stop the mandates, the fourth challenge filed by Paxton to stop the administration’s measures against COVID-19. To date, federal courts have stopped all three federal vaccine mandates following legal challenges.

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