WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Republicans voted on Wednesday to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large businesses, with the help of Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester, though the effort is likely to fizzle in the House.
Businesses with 100 or more employees must have their workers vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4 or be tested at least weekly, according to Biden’s announcement in the fall. The rule, issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Hazards Administration, has already been put on hold after a federal appeals court ruled last month that it was “staggeringly overbroad.”
Conservatives are outspoken in their opposition to the bill, claiming that it is unconstitutional and would lead to economic disaster.
Before the vote, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor, “The United States of America is a free country.” “Without a legitimate basis in law and the Constitution, the federal government elites in Washington cannot micromanage citizens’ personal choices… President Biden’s absurd private-sector vaccine mandate is blatant overreach.”
Republicans were able to use the Congressional Review Act to force a vote on Wednesday after failing to include a provision blocking the mandate in a spending bill approved by Congress last week. It passed 52-48, with moderate Democrats West Virginia’s Manchin and Montana’s Tester voting with the Republicans.
“Allow me to be clear. I oppose any vaccine mandate imposed by the government on private businesses “Last week, Manchin said in a statement. “I’ve long advocated for incentivizing, rather than penalizing, private employers who are responsible for protecting their employees from COVID-19.”
Because the effort is unlikely to gain traction in the Democratic-controlled House, the mandate’s fate will be decided by the courts, which are currently hearing challenges to it.
According to OSHA, the rule will save thousands of lives and prevent over 250,000 hospitalizations due to virus exposure at work. Aside from requiring employers with at least 100 employees to be vaccinated or tested on a regular basis, the order also mandates that employers provide paid time for employees to get vaccinated and paid leave for workers to recover from any side effects.
Employers determine each employee’s vaccination status, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees, and keep track of each employee’s vaccination status in records and a roster.
When workers test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with COVID-19, they are given “prompt notice.” Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace until they meet the required criteria, regardless of vaccination status.
Ensure that any employee who has not been fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least once a week (if the employee is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days of returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
Ensure that each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a mask when indoors or in a vehicle with another person for work purposes in most circumstances.
Republicans who oppose the mandate, such as McConnell, say they want Americans to get the vaccine; they just don’t want it forced on them. Meanwhile, health officials in the Biden administration and many Democratic lawmakers warn that the best way to eradicate the virus is to immunize people so that variants do not take hold and spread the disease.
“We require vaccinations for our children in order for them to remain healthy and attend school. We require vaccinations so that our service members are protected while on the job “Before the vote on Wednesday, he said on the Senate floor. “Let us safeguard our workers and workplaces so they can stay healthy and productive.”
More: According to a survey, the majority of employers will require workers to get COVID-19 shots.
During last week’s debate over a spending bill, Kansas Republican Sen. Roger Marshall, who helped lead the opposition to the mandate, predicted the mandate would have dire consequences. Many businesses with vaccine-averse employees would be unable to meet the requirement and would be forced to close or drastically reduce their workforce.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, he said, “Economic shutdown.” “If the federal vaccine mandate enforced by OSHA goes forward, that’s exactly what will happen.”
The Congressional Review Act is the formal procedure Congress can use to overturn or repeal an executive branch regulation. To be blocked, both chambers must agree to oppose the rule.
According to the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University, a rule that is disapproved using this mechanism is not only nullified but also cannot be reissued in a “substantially similar” manner in the future unless Congress authorizes it to do so.