The U.S. Senate on Wednesday night approved a resolution that would overturn President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses. The 52-48 vote sends the measure to the House, where it faces an uphill climb, while Biden has threatened to veto it.
The legislation would overturn administration rules ordering businesses with 100 workers or more to require vaccinations or coronavirus testing for millions of employees. Two Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana – joined 50 Republicans in voting for the resolution, reported Reuters.
“I have always supported a vaccine mandate for federal employees and the military because maintaining essential services and military readiness the federal government provides is a matter of national importance,” Manchin said in a statement following the vote.
“However, I do not support any government vaccine mandate for private businesses. It is not the place of the federal government to tell private business owners how to protect their employees from COVID-19 and operate their businesses,” he said.
Republicans have said they were inundated with calls from businesses with up to 500 workers that are concerned about having to fire employees who oppose COVID-19 vaccines and testing. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN), who introduced the resolution, argued that Biden had no authority to impose the requirements. “It’s got Main Street America scared,” he said before the vote.
The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that employers would face no burden from the mandate 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 put on hold by a federal appeals court. A U.S. court judge in Georgia also blocked a Biden vaccine mandate aimed at federal contractors on Tuesday, Inside Towers reported.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief