Biden’s vaccine mandate to face Senate challenge


(WASHINGTON) — Republican-led efforts to repeal President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate on private businesses will once again get a vote in the Senate Wednesday, and this time a repeal is expected to pass.

The Senate will likely vote Wednesday on Republican Sen. Mike Braun’s effort to repeal the mandate on private sector businesses with more than 100 employees. Every Republican signed onto the proposal.

Republicans are bringing up the repeal for a vote using a procedural tool called the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn rules created by federal agencies and only requires 51 votes to pass the Senate.

The bill would still need to go over to the House, where it is unlikely to be brought up by Democratic leadership. Republicans could use a procedural tool to push a vote on the measure early next year, but it’s unclear if they’d have the votes to do it.

But during a press conference on Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that if Congress were to send the repeal to Biden’s desk, he’d strike it down.

“We certainly hope the Senate, Congress will stand up to the anti-vaccine and testing crowd. We’re going to continue to work to implement these,” Psaki said. “If it comes to the president’s desk, he will veto it.”

Still, this won’t be a party-line vote in the Senate. As vaccine mandates lag in popularity nationwide, some moderate Democrats are expected to back the repeal effort during Wednesday’s vote, giving it the necessary votes to clear the Senate.

At least two Democrats are also expected to vote to end the mandate: Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

“I will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses. I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” Manchin said in a statement last week.

He’s been on the record repeatedly about his opposition to mandates on private businesses, though he supports the mandate for federal employees.

Braun, in an MSNBC interview, said he’s spoken to three or four other swing state Democrats who may also vote with Republicans.

“Anybody that is listening to their people back home, this doesn’t poll when it’s vaccine or job,” Braun said. “Even when you say vaccine or get tested or job, most of the people that are digging in regardless of their reasons aren’t viewing it as an option.”

Every Republican is expected to support the repeal, following last week’s party-line vote to zero out funds for the mandate during government funding negotiations last week.

Most Democrats will vote to keep the mandate in place. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, in a press conference Tuesday, said the vote is “anti science” and “anti common sense”

“It’s ridiculous, it makes no sense, and Democrats think it is the wrong way to go,” Schumer said.

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