Federal officials are plowing through meetings requested by more than 40 groups and individuals that have raised questions and concerns about the coming rule that will require many companies to implement coronavirus vaccination or testing protocols for their workers, according to records posted on a government website.

Lobbyists from industry associations and unions, as well as some private anti-vaccine individuals, are lining up to take meetings with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which is in the process of finalizing the rule that will apply to some 80 million workers, before its expected release in coming weeks.

The unusually high number of groups requesting meetings is a sign of the intense interest in how the Biden administration crafts the policy. Many view this policy as its highest-profile — and probably its most widely contested — effort to increase coronavirus vaccination rates across the country, perhaps one of the most significant undertakings in Labor Department history.

A number of meetings appear to be initiated by small but vocal anti-vaccine factions, as right-wing message boards fill with instructions on how to utilize an obscure Clinton-era executive order requiring OMB to solicit these meetings, with the goal of slowing or even stopping the process.

But that goal is not possible. Although federal officials appear to be entertaining some of these requests, they do not have to take all of the meeting requests and can release the rule when they are ready.

Biden has said the rule will apply to companies with more than 100 employees and will allow for coronavirus testing instead of mandatory vaccinations. Many companies have instituted their own vaccine mandates with high levels of compliance, but some others have said they have significant concerns about how a federal policy would be implemented.

Those who have had or requested meetings with Labor Department and OMB officials so far include industry groups such as the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), the Corn Refiners Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Retail Federation; companies such as Walt Disney and auto conglomerate Stellantis; the AFL-CIO, the nation’s largest union federation; and conservative think tanks like the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity and the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Representatives from multiple industry groups said in interviews that they had expressed concerns to federal officials about the potential for the coming vaccine requirements to exacerbate the economic woes caused by supply chain issues and labor shortages.

“The overwhelming majority of respondents said to us this is going to negatively impact their businesses and their ability to retain employees,” said Kevin McKenney, director of government affairs at the NLBMDA.

McKenney said many of the group’s member businesses were worried about the financial impact, if employers are required to pay for testing for employees who opt for it, and the strain on the labor force.

“Many of our members are concerned about the potential loss of employees,” he said. “Many have heard from their employees, who said they’d find employment elsewhere, or said we’re just going to go to another company to look for other work — that they’d rather leave than undergo the requirement.”

Other industry group leaders expressed similar sentiments, saying they told federal officials that the businesses they represented were concerned about more disruptions before the busy holiday season.

“We asked them to provide as long a possible runway regarding the implementation dates and give employers the greatest amount of flexibility as possible,” said Mark Wilson, a vice president at the HR Policy Association, which expressed these concerns in a meeting with officials on Thursday. “There’s a lot of stuff going on right now, and this is going to be a major implementation lift for large companies.”

Eric Conn, a workplace safety lawyer who met with OMB officials on behalf of a coalition of businesses with thousands of workplaces nationwide that generally support vaccine requirements, said he also raised questions about who would pay for coronavirus testing for employees.

“If you’re trying to get vaccine-resistant employees to get vaccinated, it would be crazy to require employers to pay for that testing option,” he said.

He said the businesses he represented were also unsure how they would verify their employees’ vaccination status, saying it put employers in an uncomfortable position.

Conn was one of a handful of representatives who told The Washington Post that they had asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to delay implementing the requirement until after the holiday season.

Rebecca L. Reindel, a director at the AFL-CIO, said she talked to federal officials about making sure employees have a seat at the table when employers are tasked with implementing the new requirements. She said she hoped the rule would also include other proven methods of coronavirus mitigation along with vaccination, like mandatory masking, social distancing and other measures.

“OSHA has the authority to institute some mitigation measures,” she said. “That’s something that would make sense if they’re going to be consistent.”

Other groups said they were concerned about the emerging tug-of-war between the federal government and state officials, as states with GOP-dominated legislatures such as Texas have begun mobilizing against the rules in ways that are legally fraught. Businesses, they said, are caught in the middle.

“My guys are concerned about the interaction between this standard and state and local laws,” said Edwin Egee, a vice president at the National Retail Federation, which met with OMB recently. “Maybe now the OSHA standard supersedes that, but we need really clear guidance on that. … These conflicts with state laws are going to be really complicated.”

Signs of that battle ahead are already emerging.

On Tuesday, OSHA officials sent letters to officials in Arizona, South Carolina and Utah to begin the process of revoking authorization for their workplace safety enforcement plans.

The three states have declined to institute an OSHA rule from June, which would require coronavirus safety standards at medical facilities. This clash between OSHA and the states could foreshadow state-level resistance to what the coming vaccine requirement might look like.

Conservative think tanks have also let their feelings be known to OMB and Labor Department officials.

“We made our point that the president is desperate to find a way for a national mandate and has latched on to OSHA as a fig leaf,” said Roger Severino, a former Trump administration official who is now a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

On some online conservative message boards, vaccine opponents have strategized about slowing down the process by requesting meetings with OMB.

“If anyone wants to jam up the OSHA vaccine mandate rule, you can go to this page and request a meeting with OMB,” read one post on a gun rights site. “If a few hundred thousand people request meetings, this rule will be tied up in OMB for years.”

OMB and the Labor Department declined requests for comment about the process.