Senate Blocks Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Private Businesses

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The U.S. Senate on Wednesday narrowly voted to block President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for the private sector.

In a 52-48 vote, mainly along party lines, the Senate voted to pass a resolution of disapproval (pdf) of the rule submitted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is overseen by the Department of Labor. 

All 50 Republicans in the upper chamber joined with Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to challenge the measure under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to review and, if necessary, overturn new regulations put into place by federal offices such as OSHA. 

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, joined the Republicans in voting to overturn the vaccine mandate.

Addressing the Senate floor ahead of the vote, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) laid out his reasoning for voting against the vaccine mandate.

“Biden’s vaccine mandate—like so many other of the left’s policies—is about power, controlling more aspects of Americans’ lives, & in so doing, eroding Americans’ personal autonomy,” Hagerty said.

It comes after a U.S. appeals court on Nov. 12 rejected a challenge by the Biden administration and reaffirmed its decision to put on hold OSHA sweeping vaccine mandate, which required that businesses with 100 employees or more ensure that workers either be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022, or be tested weekly and wear a mask.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans stated in an opinion last month that OSHA’s mandate is “staggeringly overbroad” and ordered it to “take no steps to implement or enforce the mandate until further court order.”

The court had previously issued a temporary halt to the mandate on Nov. 6, pending litigation.

By Isabel van Brugen

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