The 52-48 vote sends the proposed legislation to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where the bill is not expected to be brought up for a vote, meaning that it has effectively been killed.
Biden’s mandate ordered businesses with 100 workers or more to obtain proof of vaccination from their workers by January 4 or subject them to weekly testing and masking.
Two Senate Democrats – Joe Manchin (right) of West Virginia and Jon Tester (left) of Montana – joined 50 Republicans in voting to overturn President Biden’s vaccine mandate for large businesses on Wednesday
It would have applied to around 84 million private sector workers, around 31 million of whom are estimated to be unvaccinated.
Wednesday’s vote comes on the heels of a federal judge’s decision on Tuesday to block the mandate on the basis that it ‘exceeds government’s authority.’
Manchin and Tester argued that the consequences of implementing the mandate would be largely felt on the country’s already bruised economy.
The chamber’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, branded Biden’s mandate as an ‘illegal’ and ‘absurd’ government effort to micromanage the lives of private citizens.
‘President Biden’s absurd private-sector vaccine mandate is a blatant overreach.’ McConnell said. ‘The United States of America is a free country. The federal government elites in Washington cannot micromanage citizens’ personal choices without a legitimate basis in law and the Constitution.’
Biden’s mandate ordered businesses with 100 workers or more to obtain proof of vaccination from their workers by January 4 or subject them to weekly testing and masking. Wednesday’s vote comes on the heels of a federal judge’s decision on Tuesday to block the mandate on the basis that it ‘exceeds government’s authority’
The 52-48 vote, which is unlikely to become law, sends the legislation to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, where the bill is not expected to be brought up for a vote
The initiative underscores the intense political opposition facing administration efforts to combat COVID-19 at a time when health officials are trying to contain the highly contagious Omicron variant.
‘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.
Tester announced he would be voting to in favor of blocking the mandate on Twitter before the voting took place.
‘Over the past few months, I’ve repeatedly heard concerns from Montana’s small businesses and community leaders about the negative effect the private business vaccine mandate will have on their bottom lines and our state’s economy,’ he wrote in the statement.
‘That’s why I intend to join a bipartisan majority of my colleagues in defending Montana jobs and small businesses against these burdensome regulations. I strongly urge every eligible Montana to get vaccinates as soon as possible so we can end this pandemic once and for all.’
Tester announced he would be voting to in favor of blocking the mandate on Twitter before the voting took place
Manchin had priorly voiced his disapproval of Biden’s vaccine mandate
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.
‘It’s got Main Street America scared,’ Republican Senator Mike Braun, who was spearheading the legislative drive, said before the Senate 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.
‘Abuse of power by the Biden administration has been stopped cold again,’ said Alan Wilson, a Republican who serves as South Carolina’s attorney general.
Tuesday’s ruling by Baker, an appointee of President Donald Trump, shut down temporarily the last remaining business mandates that Biden had announced, as courts have found the government overstepped its authority in imposing the rules.
Judges already issued a stay regarding one that applies to businesses with 100 or more employees and another for health care workers across the U.S.
Those mandates were challenged by Republican governors, business associations and conservative civil liberty groups.
The United States has the world’s highest daily average of new reported coronavirus infections
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
A US judge in Georgia also blocked a Biden vaccine mandate aimed at federal contractors on Tuesday.
The litigation will likely continue for months and could revive the rules, which covered nearly 100 million workers, although some 83 per cent of U.S. adults have received at least one shot, according to government data.
‘We are in the middle of a public health crisis. Everyone sees the damage it causes,’ Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat, said in a speech. ‘The way to solve this is to be driven by science.’
The United States has the world’s highest daily average of new reported coronavirus infections.
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 touted the measure’s bipartisan support as a clear message of public concern about the mandate’s potential impact on workers, businesses and the economy.