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Gov. Abbott issues executive order that bans vaccine mandates by 'all entities' in Texas

"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," Abbott said in a statement.

AUSTIN, Texas — Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order Monday that bans COVID-19 vaccine mandates by any entity in Texas.

Abbott also added the ban to the agenda for the third Special Session currently underway in Austin.

"... No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccination by any individual, including an employee or consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19," the order states.

"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," Abbott said in a statement.

MORE COVERAGE: COVID-19 virus and vaccines

President Joe Biden announced new federal vaccine requirements last month affecting as many as 100 million Americans in an all-out effort to curb the surging delta variant.

Under the rules, all employers with more than 100 workers must require them to be vaccinated or test weekly for the virus. On top of that, the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.

Biden also signed an executive order to require vaccination for federal employees and contractors who do business with the federal government — with no option to test out. That covers several million more workers.

Abbott called Biden's action "federal overreach" and accused the administration of "bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ continued recovery from the COVID- 19 disaster."

Abbott said his ban would protect Texans who "fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19."

"In the end, this will be resolved in the courts. The federal government will likely win but in the interim; short-term, you are likely to see a lot of companies go into a holding pattern," Rice University political science professor Mark Jones said.

"You are going to probably have a lot of general councils on the phones tonight with their CEOs and CFOs, trying to figure out how they as a company react to this," Jones said. 

For now, the governor's move may buy workers some time. 

"This gives the thousands of workers and the unions, people fighting vaccination mandates in their place of work some ammunition," Jones said.

For Abbott, this is political ammunition, according to Jones. The governor is up for re-election next year and pushing back against Biden is all about politics.

"What we've seen from Texas Republicans is that fighting the federal government and fighting against federal government over-reach is a winning message in Texas politics."

The governor's executive order will be rescinded if the GOP-controlled legislature passes a ban.