US President Biden has unveiled his “winter plan” to try and suppress the virus. But Biden’s efforts to try and make COVID jabs mandatory by pressuring employers and carrying out a purge of the federal workforce has been surprisingly difficult.
And now, a growing number of Democrats in the House and the Senate are joining with Republicans to push back against their leader’s demands to make vaccinations mandatory for as many workers as possible, something that critics say could worsen America’s labor crisis at an inopportune time.
As we previewed last night, Democrats Joe Manchin and Jon Tester joined all the Republicans present to vote against the mandate 52-48 on Wednesday night. Critics of the mandate insist that it’s an example of federal overreach.
“I’m not crazy about mandates,” Tester said on Tuesday, though he added that he supports mandates aimed specifically at health care workers and military servicemen.
“Let me be clear: I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses,” said Manchin.
“That’s why I have cosponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses.”
“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” Manchin said.
Politico explains that lawmakers employed a mechanism called the Congressional Review Act, which offers a fast track for wiping out administrative rules. A companion petition in the House is still short of the 218 signatures it would need to force a floor vote. President Biden has already promised to veto any disapproval measures that clear Congress, which means the Congressional votes against the mandate are largely symbolic.
The vaccine mandate on businesses with more than 100 workers has already been challenged by various courts, as we noted above. But Senate Republicans said they still wanted to use the legislative maneuver rather than leave things up to the judiciary.