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Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

The Biden administration on Tuesday asked a federal appeals court in Cincinnati to lift a block on a national mandate that requires companies to ensure that employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested weekly.

Why it matters: The government's 52-page motion comes more than a week after a panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans issued a stay on the rule, writing that it "grossly exceeds [the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's] statutory authority" to regulate hazards within the workplace.

  • At least 34 lawsuits, brought by employers and Republican-controlled states, have since been moved to the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court for consolidation, per the New York Times.

What they're saying: The Biden administration defended the measure in its motion Tuesday, writing that it would "save thousands of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations."

"The Fifth Circuit's stay should be lifted immediately. The court's principal rationale was that OSHA allegedly lacked statutory authority to address the grave danger of COVID-19 in the workplace. ... That rationale has no basis in the statutory text. Congress charged OSHA with addressing grave dangers in the workplace, without any carve-out for viruses or dangers that also happen to exist outside the workplace."
— Department of Justice in a filing to the Sixth Circuit Appeals Court

Details: Under the rule, companies with 100 or more workers must mandate vaccination or regular testing, with fines for violating the measure starting at an estimated $13,653 per violation.

Go deeper

Jan 15, 2022 - Health

Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron

Three COVID-19 testing companies place testing locations outside Grand Central Terminal on Jan. 14 in New York City. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Experts are warning that subsequent COVID-19 variants are likely to come after Omicron, AP reports.

Why it matters: The warnings come as there's no guarantee that subsequent variants "will cause milder illness or that existing vaccines will work against them," underscoring the need for widespread vaccination, AP writes.

2 hours ago - World

U.S: Nord Stream 2 "will not move forward" if Russia invades Ukraine

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price during a press briefing at the State Department in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. will make sure the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project between Russia and Germany won't go ahead if Russian troops invade Ukraine, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told NPR on Wednesday.

Why it matters: Germany's ambassador to the U.S. appeared to support Price's strong rhetoric on the strategically significant pipeline that would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany, eliminating one of the last deterrents Ukraine has against an invasion, per Axios' Zachary Basu.

Scoop: Stephanie Ruhle to replace Brian Williams on MSNBC

Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

MSNBC will soon announce plans to move morning anchor Stephanie Ruhle to the 11 pm ET hour that Brian Williams turned into an elite destination, two sources familiar with the move tell Axios.

Details: The 9 am ET hour, currently hosted by Ruhle, will become part of MSNBC's flagship morning show, "Morning Joe," which currently runs from 6 am to 9 am ET.