Two Democratic Senators join Republicans in opposing the Administration. U.S. House next to consider the resolution.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 52-48 to repeal President Joe Biden’s federal COVID vaccine mandate for private companies with more than 100 employees. That vote comes after the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suspended its implementation and enforcement of the mandate following the stay issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
OSHA’s rule would have imposed a $13,653 fine for each offense, with willful violations resulting in a $136,532 penalty.
Democrat U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (WV) and Jon Tester (MT) joined all 50 of the Senate Republicans in opposing the mandate through the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution. The CRA is the official process for Congress to eliminate an Executive Branch rule.
The CRA was introduced by Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) and cosponsored by other Republicans in the chamber, including both Mississippi Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith. The Senators believe the Biden Administration mandate is a highly inappropriate invasion of what should be a personal medical decision for every American, and that it could worsen labor shortages and supply chain disruptions.
“President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandates are rightfully being challenged in the courts,” Senator Wicker said in a statement following the vote. “Today’s vote confirms that a majority of the Senate disapproves strongly of the President’s actions. We will continue working to overturn this blatant executive overreach that threatens to wreck our economy.”
Senator Hyde-Smith agreed, adding that she trusts the American people to make medical decisions for themselves.
“We understand the seriousness of the pandemic, its toll on personal lives and our economy, and the effectiveness of vaccines. This awareness, however, does not give President Biden license to impose imperial vaccine edicts that impede personal freedoms and impose a vast government overreach over a struggling private business sector,” Senator Hyde-Smith said. “I continue to believe COVID vaccines save lives. I also trust the American people to make the best medical decisions for themselves and their families.”
The resolution now heads to the U.S. House where it is unclear as to whether Republicans can peel off enough votes from the Democratic majority to approve the CRA and stop Biden’s business mandate.
Mississippi 4th District Congressman Steven Palazzo, who has cosponsored a bill to prohibit federal agencies from mandating COVID vaccines, took to Twitter reiterate his opposition to the Biden vaccine mandates.
“I am 100% AGAINST federal vaccine mandates,” Palazzo tweeted, adding, “Mississippians are losing their jobs for exercising their constitutional freedoms and I won’t stand for it.”
I am 100% AGAINST federal vaccine mandates. I cosponsored a bill to prohibit federal agencies from mandating COVID vaccines for employers of contractors or subcontractors. Mississippians are losing their jobs for exercising their constitutional freedoms and I won’t stand for it.
— Cong. Steven Palazzo (@CongPalazzo) December 8, 2021
The other two Mississippi Republican Congressmen – Trent Kelly (MS 1) and Michael Guest (MS 3) – have previously expressed their opposition to the Biden mandates as well. Democrat Congressman Bennie Thompson (MS 2) has backed the White House to date.
If the House does approve the resolution, it is expected that President Biden would veto the measure, allowing the courts to determine the fate of his mandate.