Senator Joe Manchin announced he would join all 50 Republicans in the Senate in voting for a resolution of disapproval that would roll back the OSHA vaccine mandate.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows for a majority of Congress to disapprove of any agency rule. Since the CRA vote is in the form of a resolution, only a simple majority is needed in the Senate to pass it.
The CRA would still have to be approved in the House where several Democrats have said they’re considering voting for it. And even if it’s passed by both chambers, Biden would almost certainly veto it.
But it would be a powerful statement to make prior to a Supreme Court ruling on the case.
“Let me be clear, I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses. That’s why I have cosponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses,” Manchin said in a statement.
“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” he added.
Manchin had an opportunity to eliminate the mandate when Senate Republicans were able to get Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to allow a stand-alone vote on an amendment that would defund the OSHA mandate.
But Manchin chose to vote against it, knowing that the CRA vote would be held next week.
Manchin suggested in his statement that he opposed the amendment because if it had been added to the government funding bill it would have risked a shutdown. Congress had until the end of Friday to pass the stopgap measure, which funds the government through mid-February.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and as the new Omicron variant emerges, I will not vote to shut down the government for purely political reasons. There is too much at stake for the American people,” he said.
Indiana Senator Mike Braun is spearheading the drive to eliminate the OSHA mandate.
“President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate for private businesses is not a partisan issue: it jeopardizes the freedoms and livelihoods of Americans in all 50 states, and I commend Senator Joe Manchin for joining this challenge that has already earned the support of all 50 GOP Senators,” Braun said in a statement. “As we anticipate a simple-majority vote on this in the Senate next week, I hope that more Democratic Senators and Representatives will follow Senator Manchin’s strong lead and stand up against this federal overreach that will wreak havoc on our recovering economy and trample on the rights of millions of Americans.”
Biden is already getting clobbered in federal court as the mandate is declared unconstitutional over and over again. If he were smart, he’d cut his losses and let the Congressional Review stand.
But no one ever accused Joe Biden of being one of the brightest bulbs in the room and he isn’t likely to prove otherwise here.