Even as Dr. Anthony Fauci and his fans lick their lips at the emergence of the new Omicron variant and the possibility of reimposed lockdowns and vaccine mandates, the American people – as expressed in November’s elections – have sent Washington precisely the opposite message: We’re sick and tired of the vaccine mandates and lockdowns, and we’re going to punish at the ballot box those we hold responsible.
If congressional Republicans are smart, they’ll work from the adage that good policy makes for good politics and use the limited power they have to find a way to advance the pro-freedom, anti-mandate agenda. Serendipitously, one such opportunity arrives this week, with consideration of a Continuing Resolution needed to keep the government funded beyond its current December 3 expiration date.
As our Founding Fathers understood, control of the nation’s treasury gave Congress its most useful tool against overreach by the executive; wrote James Madison, in Federalist 58, “the power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon” in our system of checks and balances.
Because House and Senate have negotiators have not made much progress on this year’s funding bills, this particular continuing resolution will likely provide funding for just a few weeks – that is, just long enough to allow negotiators to work out what they hope will be a longer-term spending deal. Because this is a spending bill, it will require 60 votes to pass the Senate, which is another way of saying it will pass only if 10 Republican senators agree to vote for it.
That gives Senate Republicans the whip hand.
Opposing President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates is good policy. For one thing, nowhere in the Constitution is the president of the United States given the authority to impose such a requirement on a citizen of our republic. For another, our economy is already struggling with labor shortages in key industries, and a vaccine mandate that significant segments of our society oppose will make matters worse.
Not surprisingly, almost three dozen lawsuits have been filed against Biden’s vaccine mandates. Also, not surprisingly, a Circuit Court of Appeals has blocked the Biden administration from implementing and enforcing its mandates while the litigation plays out.
Opposing Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates is also good politics. For any who doubted, that became evident in early November, when voters across the country rejected Democrats up and down the ballot. In focus groups examining the Virginia governor’s contest, conducted by a Democrat research firm, authors of a research memo examining 2020 Biden voters who then cast votes for the GOP nominee in 2021 wrote that “School closures + COVID-19 policy were a bigger factor than CRT. These voters were more animated talking about their dissatisfaction with their local school districts’ handling of COVID-19. They felt buffeted by changing and inconsistent policies and concerned about the impact on student learning loss, and there was a sense among some that Virginia was not following the science by keeping the schools closed later than other states. One participant, a Biden voter, stated flat out that her vote for [GOP nominee Glenn] Youngkin ‘was against the party that closed the schools for so long last year.’”
That was a vote against closing schools. Imagine how much worse it will be when voters are casting votes against politicians who impose mandates that bar children from schools, cost people their jobs, cost families their livelihoods, and wreak havoc on our nation’s already-fragile supply chains.
Republicans can get on the right side of the issue – and make a real difference – by using the power they have in the Senate. Without ten GOP votes, the Continuing Resolution will not move through the Senate. Suppose all 50 GOP senators would agree to withhold their votes for any funding bill that does not contain language prohibiting the expenditure of funds to implement or enforce Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates. In that case, the funding bill will not advance, and Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandates will fall.
Republicans have an opportunity here to make a stand for freedom. They can demonstrate their determination to stand firm for the constitutional freedoms we enjoy as citizens of our republic, even as they paint their political opposition into a corner. Americans are counting on Republicans to take a decisive stand for liberty.
• Jenny Beth Martin is the co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots.