News & Politics

Congressional Republicans Move to Halt Biden's Controversial Vaccine Mandate

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Republican senators, led by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), are setting the wheels in motion to overturn the Biden Administration’s controversial vaccine mandate on private sector businesses.

Braun, the senior Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety, which oversees OSHA, led the charge at a Nov. 3 presser. “This week, President Biden’s White House is expected to issue a Rule to officially mandate vaccination requirements for employees at private businesses with more than 100 employees. The rule [will] affect more than 80 million Americans, and imposes $14,000 fines for persons who do not comply,” said Braun in a statement.

The Biden Mandate is expected to be yet another massive disruptor to businesses and supply chains already reeling from COVID-19 interruptions.

“This rule by the Biden administration is a highly inappropriate invasion of what should be a personal medical decision for every American,” said Braun. “The federal vaccine mandate threatens to worsen the current labor shortage and further disrupt supply chains. This unacceptable federal directive impacts tens of millions of Americans and warrants review by Congress, the representatives elected by the American people to make the laws.”

In September, the Biden Administration announced the new rule, which requires businesses with 100 or more employees to act as vaccine mandate enforcers. With few exemptions, employers must require all employees to be fully vaccinated or else constantly masked and show weekly negative COVID tests—often at the employee’s own expense. Businesses have until January 4, 2022, to get with the program. OSHA will conduct onsite inspections to make sure they are compliant, and those that aren’t will face fines that can range from $13,653 to $136,532.

Related: Will Everyone Subject to a COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Get This Protection or Just the Feds?

On Friday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) issued a statement of his own. ““Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental rights of American citizens. More than that, it unlawfully bypasses established regulatory procedures. Congress, not the President, has the authority to make law. [President Biden] is ignoring this basic principle by forcing employers to require their workers be vaccinated, undergo rigorous testing procedures, or be fired. It’s wrong, will make our nation’s economic challenges worse, and must not be allowed to go into effect.”

Republican Senators plan to implement the Congressional Review Act to halt the disruptive directive in its tracks before it can cause any damage. Braun explains, “The Congressional Review Act (CRA) can be used by Congress to overturn certain federal agency regulations and actions through a joint resolution of disapproval. If a CRA joint resolution of disapproval is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the President, or if Congress successfully overrides a presidential veto, the rule at issue is invalidated.”

If proponents are able to get a resolution through both chambers, Biden would undoubtedly veto it the second it hits his desk. Republicans will then need to convince Congress to override the President’s veto—an uphill battle with both chambers currently under Democrat control. But Republican support is solid in the Senate—42 Senators have already signed on, and a GOP aide told Fox News that there isn’t any Republican disapproval of the resolution.

House Republicans are also readying their opposition to the mandate. Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.), the senior Republican on the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, blasted the new rule. “At a time when we should be doing everything possible to get Americans back to work safely, this politically-driven mandate will unnecessarily stifle private sector job growth across the country.”

And with a great many Democrats in vulnerable positions going into the 2022 midterms elections, it’s possible some of them could be peeled off the Democrat hardline. Whether Republicans can rally enough Democrat support to override the expected veto remains to be seen, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

And if Republicans ultimately fail to garner enough Democrat support to repeal the controversial mandate, then Democrats will have to explain themselves to their angry constituents a few months later, when more jobs have been lost, supply chains further weakened, and shortages worsened— and voters are heading to the polls.