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A federal district judge in Texas blocked a Department of Labor overtime rule Tuesday night in a major setback for the Obama administration.

The rule, which would have affected 4.2 million workers, was highly controversial among many employers, including higher education institutions. It would have raised to $47,476 from $23,660 the threshold under which salaried employees would be eligible for overtime pay. The final version of the rule released by the administration included a teaching exemption but, in theory, would have applied to postdoctoral fellows as well as many who work in student affairs, admissions and other parts of colleges and universities.

It would have gone into effect Dec. 1, but Judge Amos Mazzant granted a temporary injunction in response to a legal challenge filed by 21 states.

Congressional Republicans were joined by the American Council on Education in opposition to the rule. It received praise, on the other hand, from groups including the American Federation of Teachers and other groups that represent some of the workers who would benefit. Republicans had targeted the overtime rule along with a number of other Obama administration regulations for repeal at the beginning of the next Congress. It remains unclear exactly what will happen with the regulation, and how employers such as colleges will respond to the legal uncertainty.