U.S. Senate passes Republican bill to quash Biden vaccine mandate

The 52-48 vote sends the legislation to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where it faces strong headwinds, while Biden has threatened to veto it.

The legislation would overturn administrative rules ordering companies with 100 or more workers to require vaccinations or coronavirus tests for millions of employees.

The measure was not subject to Senate rules that require 60 of its 100 members to agree on most laws, meaning it could be passed with only a simple majority of 51 votes. Two Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin from West Virginia and Jon Tester from Montana – joined 50 Republicans to vote for the bill.

The initiative underlines the intense political opposition facing the administration’s efforts to fight COVID-19 as health officials attempt to contain the highly contagious variant of Omicron.

“I have always supported a vaccination mandate for federal employees and the military, as maintaining essential services and military preparedness provided by the federal government is a matter of national importance,” Manchin said in a statement. after the vote.

“However, I do not support any government vaccine mandate for private companies. It is not for the federal government to tell private business owners how to protect their employees from COVID-19 and operate their businesses,” he said. he declares.

Manchin added that he was fully vaccinated and had received a booster, and urged all Americans to do the same.

Republicans have said they have been inundated with calls from companies with up to 500 workers who fear they will have to fire workers who oppose COVID-19 vaccines and testing.

“This scares Main Street America,” said Republican Senator Mike Braun, who led the legislative campaign, before the Senate vote.

The White House said in a statement Tuesday that employers would not face any mandate burdens because the vast majority of American adults are fully vaccinated and noted that the rule exempts small businesses.

Biden’s private business mandate has already been suspended by a federal appeals court. A U.S. judge in Georgia also blocked a Biden vaccine warrant for federal contractors on Tuesday.

“We are in the midst of a public health crisis. Everyone sees the damage it is causing,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat, said in a speech. “The way to solve this problem must be guided by science. “

The United States has the world’s highest daily average of new coronavirus infections reported. The virus has infected 49.5 million Americans and killed more than 794,000, the highest death toll of any country, according to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker.

Republicans have presented bipartisan support for the measure as a clear message of public concern about the potential impact of the mandate on workers, businesses and the economy.

The top House Republican, Mitch McConnell, called Biden’s tenure a government effort “illegal” and “absurd” to micromanage the lives of individuals.

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