Sen. Joe Manchin III, a key swing vote for the White House’s agenda, is backing a Republican-led effort to overturn President Biden’s national vaccine mandate for private businesses.
Mr. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, plans to co-introduce a resolution disapproving of the mandate within the Senate next week.
“I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses,” he said. “That’s why I have cosponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses.”
Mr. Manchin argued that while he supported every American getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, it was inappropriate for the federal government to make demands of private employers.
“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” he said. “I have personally had both vaccine doses and a booster shot and I continue to urge every West Virginian to get vaccinated themselves.”
Alongside GOP Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana, Mr. Manchin is backing a resolution to overturn the mandate using the Congressional Review Act. The oversight tool allows lawmakers to repudiate a federal regulation by a simple majority vote in each house of Congress.
If successful, the new regulation is barred from being implemented by the federal government unless Congress passes legislation approving of such a course.
“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,” said Mr. Braun.
Mr. Manchin’s backing of the resolution likely assures its passage within the evenly split Senate, provided Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, allows it to come to the floor.
Although Mr. Schumer’s intent is unclear, even if the resolution passes the Senate it is dead on arrival within the Democratic-controlled House. Mr. Biden would also likely be assured to veto the measure if it did somehow pass Congress.
Earlier this week, 48 Republicans voted unsuccessfully to bar the vaccine mandate for private employers from going into effect as part of a funding bill to keep the government open.
Mr. Manchin voted alongside every single Democrat to block the amendment, arguing it was a poison pill that would result in shutting down the government.
“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,” he said. “There is too much at stake for the American people.”