Senate votes to drop Biden vaccine mandate as Republicans look to 2022

WASHINGTON – The Senate narrowly voted on Wednesday to overturn President Biden’s decision mandate for vaccines and tests for big emplo...


WASHINGTON – The Senate narrowly voted on Wednesday to overturn President Biden’s decision mandate for vaccines and tests for big employers, taking mostly symbolic action as Republicans step up protest against administration pressure to immunize Americans against a deadly pandemic.

The vote was bipartisan, as two centrist Democrats – Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana – joined the 50 Republicans in voting to overturn the regulation, which has already been blocked amid a wave of disputes by large employers and states controlled by Republicans. But the House is not expected to take the step, and administration officials have said Mr Biden will veto it if it makes it to his office.

For Republicans who forced action, it was a great opportunity to describe the administration’s efforts to increase coronavirus vaccinations as federal overreach, a central part of their campaign message ahead of the mid-election. – mandate next year. It was also an unusual successful vote for the minority party.

“The federal government, the elites in Washington, cannot micromanage the personal choices of citizens without a legitimate basis in law and the Constitution,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader and polio survivor who has been a strong supporter of coronavirus vaccines. . “And that will double for presidents who far exceed the limits of their function and authority.”

The vaccines turned out safe and effective in stemming the spread of coronavirus. Laboratory experiences also indicated one booster injection of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine could provide some protection against the Omicron variant, according to a study published online Tuesday.

Legislative action is likely to further politicize the pandemic response, especially as Republican leaders have fought to quell disinformation and vaccine skepticism in their ranks and distinguish between opposing mandates rather than vaccines. Republicans, who conceded they would fail to overthrow the veto-proof majorityless rule, said they would turn the mandate into a weapon as further proof of the Biden administration’s authoritarian approach in governance and would continue to press for action.

“If you keep moving forward, and with all that has been done to say, ‘Hey, it’s falling flat all over the country,’ that’s their responsibility,” said Sen. Mike Braun, Republican of Indiana. , who led the effort. “I think that’s just another bad topic he’s been doctrinaire on and not flexible on.”

The concern of centrist Democrats has signaled that some members of the president’s party are reluctant to fully embrace mandates beyond those of federal workers and members of the military. Both Mr. Tester and Mr. Manchin spoke about the concerns of their state companies about the ability to retain workers if regulation outweighs ongoing legal challenges.

“What he is saying is that it was presented with all the best of intentions, but that puts some companies in a bind,” Tester said ahead of the vote, adding that he supported vaccines as well as federal mandates for health care. workers and soldiers. “It’s about certainty for the companies moving forward. “

With the backing of both Democrats, the vote was 52-48 to pass the bill.

The administration previously announced a series of immunization warrants for healthcare workers and military personnel; in November, he said a warrant for vaccines and tests would come into effect in January for the private sector. But a federal court of appeal kept in place a blockage on the private sector requirement. By enacting the rule, the court said, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had exceeded its authority.

While some companies welcomed the OSHA requirement as a way forward, others resisted, citing concerns about the exacerbation of a difficult labor shortage. Some of the largest private employers, including Walmart and JPMorgan Chase, have yet to define broad terms of reference for all employees.

A recent survey of 543 companies by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson found that 57% require or plan to require vaccinations against Covid-19. That includes 32 percent who plan to mandate vaccines only if the OSHA rule goes into effect. Seven percent said they plan to impose regulations regardless of the outcome.

Republicans threatened last week to block a government funding bill on mandates, which would have led to a shutdown. But they failed to garner Democratic support for a proposal that would have banned the funding of any mandate.

In this case, the Republicans used a once obscure law known as the Congressional Review Act to counter the imposition of the mandate. The law gives Congress the ability to overturn a rule by simple majority in both chambers, and there cannot be obstructed in the Senate.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Republican supporters said that while they were vaccinated and wanted their voters to be as well, the attempt to overturn the rule was a referendum on federal reach and proof of their willingness to fight for the people they represent.

“Encouraging and demanding are two different things,” said West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito. She accused the mandate of “killing the American spirit to be able to make decisions about you.”

A majority of Democrats denounced the Republican effort as aimed at undermining the inoculation of Americans. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, said that “taking tools out of the toolbox is just plain stupid.”

“There should be one message and one message from this chamber to the American people,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader. “Get vaccinated, get boosted and stay safe yourself – protect your families, your communities and our country.”

Lauren Hirsch contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Senate votes to drop Biden vaccine mandate as Republicans look to 2022
Senate votes to drop Biden vaccine mandate as Republicans look to 2022
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