Republican lawmakers on Wednesday announced plans to formally challenge President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private businesses by invoking Congress‘s right to review such executive orders just weeks before the mandate is scheduled to go into effect.
The lawmakers are invoking the Congressional Review Act, triggering a 20-day review that began with the Nov. 16 formal transmission of the rule to Congress. It sets up a vote in early December.
“President Biden’s vaccine mandate is an unconstitutional invasion of what should be a personal medical decision for every American and an affront to the rights of 80 million American workers,” Sen. Mike Braun, the Indiana Republican leading the effort in the Senate, said Thursday. “Today, my Republican colleagues and I will formally challenge this federal overreach, and I urge the Senate to vote in favor of this disapproval resolution when it comes to the floor for a filibuster-proof, simple-majority vote in early December.”
Rep. Fred Keller, the Pennsylvania Republican who is leading the effort in the House, said: “President Biden’s illegal vaccine mandate is crippling for Main Street job creators and workers. We will continue to do everything we can to oppose this authoritarian rule.”
With Democrats unlikely to join the effort, the main impact will be to put Democrats on the record supporting Mr. Biden’s mandate.
The White House did not immediately respond to The Washington Times’ request for comment but has defended the legality of its actions as necessary in the face of the continuing public health threat posed by COVID-19.
All 50 Senate and more than 160 House Republicans say they back the use of the Congressional Review Act, which gives lawmakers a mechanism to override an executive-branch rule if passed.
“The broad support that our Congressional Review Act resolution has garnered sends a clear message to President Biden: The American people are fed up with the mandates and government control,” Mr. Keller said.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s “emergency temporary standard” issued earlier this month would require private businesses with 100 employees or more to obtain “acceptable proof” of vaccination status from their workforce and “maintain records and a roster of each employee’s vaccinations status.”
Unvaccinated employees would be required to wear masks indoors beginning in early December and undergo weekly testing the following month. The mandate would cover more than 84 million employees and could result in fines of up to $14,000 for those who do not comply.
The mandate was included in the Federal Registry and formally communicated to the Senate on Tuesday, beginning a 20-day review period by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. A disapproval measure would be eligible for a floor vote after the review period.
The mandate has faced steep pushback from several large employers and officials in Republican-controlled states since being announced earlier this month.
At least 34 lawsuits have been filed challenging the mandate.
American Trucking Association CEO Chris Spear, who announced last week that his group would challenge the mandate in court, said Mr. Biden and OSHA overstepped their authority with the mandate. He also said the rule would have a devastating impact on the economy, especially amid a growing supply chain crisis and a growing shortage of more than 80,000 truckers.
“This standard arbitrarily picks winners and losers, and puts employers in an untenable position of forcing workers to choose between working and their private medical decisions, which is something that cannot be allowed,” Mr. Spear said in a statement last week.
“We told the administration that this mandate, given the nature of our industry and makeup of our workforce, could have devastating impacts on the supply chain and the economy and they have, unfortunately, chosen to move forward despite those warnings,” he said. “So we are now, regrettably, forced to seek to have this mandate overturned in court.”
Other major employers have welcomed the mandate, and the White House has defended the push by pointing to companies that imposed rules and saw their vaccination rates rise above 90%.
Earlier this month, a federal appeals court in New Orleans temporarily halted the mandate, but the Biden administration requested that the court stop short of issuing a final ruling and that the case be consolidated with other lawsuits and reassigned through a judicial lottery.
A federal judicial panel on Tuesday assigned the case, along with several others to an appeals court in Cincinnati.
Separately on Wednesday, members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus said they would oppose any government funding legislation, including the upcoming stopgap spending bill to keep the government open, while Mr. Biden’s separate vaccine mandates for federal employees will remain in place.
In a letter to House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, the Republican members said Mr. Biden’s mandates “will cause the loss of livelihoods and endanger Americans.”
“No member of Congress exercising their authority to control the ‘power of the purse’ under Article I of the Constitution of the United States should vote to fund an Executive Branch that is requiring unconstitutional vaccine mandates on American citizens in the private sector, or foolishly and wrongheadedly mandating the COVID-19 vaccination of government personnel,” the lawmakers wrote.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.