Ahead of an expected Senate vote on a disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act opposing the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private employers, Senate Republicans touted that at least two Democrats have signaled they will support the effort.
Indiana Sen. Mike Braun, the Republican who filed the challenge, told reporters at a Wednesday press conference that the effort is now “bipartisan” against the president’s “overreach.”
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Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana have said they will back the resolution. The Congressional Review Act gives Congress the authority to overturn certain rules implemented by federal agencies. Senate rules allow such resolutions to pass with a majority vote instead of the usual 60 votes. Since the GOP controls just 50 votes, support from even one Democrat will allow them to pass the resolution.
The resolution would reverse the Biden administration’s requirement that businesses with more than 100 employees require their workforce to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly tests for the virus. Although the resolution is expected to pass the Senate, it is unlikely to do so in the House, making the victory a largely symbolic one for Senate Republicans.
Most Democrats have dismissed the resolution as detrimental to public health. At their press conference, several Republican senators sought to draw a contrast between support for the vaccines themselves and opposition to mandates.
West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito said there is a distinction between “encouraging and requiring.”
Montana Sen. Steve Daines said, “This is not about being anti-vaccine.”
“I was part of the Pfizer trial,” Daines said. “I am pro-science, pro-vaccine. But I’m anti-mandate.”
Asked why five Democrats should force the issue in the House, Utah Sen. Mike Lee said, “Why would they not?”
Lee argued the Democrats' constituents will lose their jobs “en masse” if the mandate remains in place.
“It’s just fundamentally unfair,” he said. “There’s no reason they have to be wedded to it.”
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The vaccine mandate on private employers faces a slew of court challenges, and the requirement for private businesses has been suspended, although the Biden administration has stood by its effort. In a statement, the administration said it “strongly opposes” the resolution.