The Senate passed a resolution nixing President Biden's "unconstitutional" COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees.
The vote was 52-48, with two Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana, joining all Republicans in voting in favor of the resolution.
The GOP resolution, spearheaded by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) sought to overturn the newly Biden administration forcing businesses with more than 100 employees to officially place a mandate vaccine requirements or face a $14,000 fine for persons who do not comply.
Senate Republicans last month filed their objection under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Lawmakers, through CRA, have the power to overturn federal agency rules within a certain timeframe with a simple majority vote in both the House and the Senate.
In September, Biden issued the vaccine mandate forcing federal workers and businesses with more than 100 employees to get vaccinated for COVID by a specific deadline or face weekly testing. However, federal employees are not given the weekly testing option.
The rule, published through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), orders businesses with at least 100 employees to require their workers to get vaccinated or undergo regular testing by Jan. 4. OSCA, which polices workplace safety for the Labor Department, issued the requirements under the emergency authority established by Congress.
The resolution now goes to the Democratic-controlled House, where the path to passage is uncertain. If the House follows, by mustering a few Democrats to the cross-party aisle in favor of the resolution, it would head to Biden's desk. From there, the president can either sign the bill — allowing the rule to be rescinded or veto the bill — enabling the bill to stand.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki warned that Biden will veto the bill if it were to reach his desk. Neither chamber has the two-thirds majority required to override a presidential veto.
"We certainly hope the Senate, Congress, will stand up to the anti-vaccine and testing crowd, and we're going to continue to work to implement these. If it comes to the president's desk, he will veto it," Psaki told reporters Tuesday.
However, Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses has run into several court challenges. More than two dozen lawsuits have been filed in federal courts across the country challenging requirements. Republican attorneys general, private businesses, and national industry groups such as the National Retail Federation, American Trucking Associations, and the National Federation of Independent Business want the requirements overturned.
A federal court has already halted the administration's Covid vaccination and testing requirements for private businesses with 100 or more employees. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the three-judge panel in an opinion said Biden's policy was "fatally flawed" and "raised serious constitutional concerns."
A District Court judge in Georgia Tuesday blocked the administration from requiring that all federal contractors be vaccinated by Jan. 4.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) branded the Biden mandate as an "unconstitutional ultimatum" that forces Americans to give up their personal decision on when to get inoculated.
Joe Biden's attempt to force an unconstitutional ultimatum on the American people to get the vaccine, or lose your job, is horrible. Under his mandate, if you work for a supermarket, a car dealership, or bank – any company with more than 100 employees – Biden wants to force you into a personal health decision and bring you in line with his socialist doctrine," Scott said. That's why today's passage of our resolution is so important. Today we sent a clear message to President Biden: His unconstitutional vaccine mandates have no place in the United States."
Manchin, in a statement following the vote, said he is not in favor of the federal government punishing the private sector vaccine rule should be implemented for government employees and contractors who interact with government employees, but he'd prefer to see a process to "incentivize" private-sector employees rather than punish them.
Ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in his floor speech Wednesday morning, criticized Republicans for their rhetoric, accusing his colleagues of being "anti-science, anti-vaccine proposal."
"Some of the anti-vaxxers here in this chamber remind me of what happened 400 years ago when people were clinging to the fact that the sun revolved around the Earth," Schumer said. "They just didn't believe science. Or 500 years ago when they were sure the Earth was flat."