Dozens of Senate Republicans said Wednesday they will formally challenge President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine rules on large employers by filing a resolution that would rely on congressional review powers to strike it down.
Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana led 40 party colleagues in moving to “disapprove and nullify” the forthcoming rule from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which will be published any day now and would require companies with 100 or more workers to mandate the vaccine or weekly testing.
Republicans have decried the regulation, which Mr. Biden announced in September to lift vaccination rates, as an unacceptable intrusion on personal medical decisions.
Mr. Braun’s push relies on the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn certain federal regulations if both chambers pass a joint resolution of disapproval and the president signs it.
“Today, we are one step closer to protecting the liberties of millions of Americans in the private sector workforce under the Congressional Review Act. I urge my Senate colleagues to vote in favor of this disapproval resolution in the coming weeks,” Mr. Braun said.
With Democrats unlikely to join the effort and Mr. Biden not set to disapprove his own actions, the main impact of the effort will be to put Democrats on the record in a vote to support or reject Mr. Biden’s mandate after a 20-day review period following publication of the OSHA rule in the Federal Register.
The mandate has sparked controversy since Mr. Biden floated it as part of a broader set of mandates on federal employees and contractors.
Some GOP-run states have taken steps to insulate workers from the rule, which could serve as a hot-button issue during next year’s midterm elections.
The White House has defended the mandate push by pointing to companies that imposed rules and saw their vaccination rates rise above 90%.
Republican critics say the regulation, known as an emergency temporary standard, oversteps agency authority and was rushed through the rulemaking process.
“Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate is an unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental rights of American citizens,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri Republican. “More than that, it unlawfully bypasses established regulatory procedures. Congress, not the president, has the authority to make law.”
As it stands, 41 Republican senators have signed on to Mr. Braun’s effort.
A GOP aide told Fox News that the remaining nine GOP senators — Mitch McConnell, Richard Shelby, Susan Collins, Roy Blunt, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, Bill Cassidy, Tim Scott and Rob Portman — are waiting for the OSHA rule to be filed.
White House COVID-19 Coordinator Jeff Zients on Wednesday said businesses will see the text of the OSHA mandate as soon as this week.
“The OSHA rule, that will be coming quite soon, in a matter of days at this point,” he told reporters in a White House briefing.
Mr. Zients declined to say whether the rule will go into effect immediately or if there will be a ramp-up period, saying he would “leave the details to the rule when it is made public in the Federal Register.”
• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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