Senate rejects corporate mandate
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate narrowly approved a resolution on Wednesday to overturn the Biden administration’s requirement that companies with 100 or more workers have their employees vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo weekly tests.
The vote was 52-48. The Democratic-led House is unlikely to take action, meaning the term would stand, although the courts have suspended it for now. Still, the vote gave senators a chance to voice their opposition to a policy they say has raised fears among businesses and unvaccinated voters who fear losing their jobs if the rule takes effect.
âEvery once in a while Washington DC does something that lights up the phone lines. It’s one of those times, âsaid Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. At home, he said, âThis is the problem I hear about. This question is a priority question. “
Lawmakers can overrule certain federal agency regulations if a joint resolution is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, or if Congress overrides a presidential veto. This is unlikely to happen in this case.
Under the rule, private sector companies with 100 or more employees must require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly and wear masks at work. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has said it will work with companies on compliance, but will fine them up to more than $ 13,000 for each violation, although implementation and enforcement are suspended as the dispute unfolds.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said Americans who refused to get vaccinated are the biggest obstacle to ending the pandemic. He suggested that part of the resistance to mandatory vaccines is based on politics.
âSome of the anti-vaccines here in this room remind me of what happened 400 years ago when people clung to the sun circling the earth. They just didn’t believe in science. Or 500 years ago, when they were sure the Earth was flat, âSchumer said.
Schumer said social media played a role in spreading lies about the vaccine, and “the far right too.” He urged senators to vote against the resolution, sponsored by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind.
Republicans have said they support the vaccine, but the tenure amounts to government overtaking.
âHis mandates are under fire in the courts. Main Street job creators are complaining, and tonight the US Senate must send a clear message: give up on this bad idea, âBraun said.
Some have argued that the warrant may even help keep people from getting vaccinated.
“I think the mandate actually made it worse by toughening up people who don’t want the government telling them what to do,” said Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., said a town hall meeting she had recently held with voters made it clear that they were concerned about keeping their jobs if the term takes effect.
âIf you look at my state, 40% of the workforce in my state is at risk of losing their jobs under this tenure,â Capito said. “It will be a killer for our economy.”
In the end, two Democratic lawmakers voted with 50 Republicans to quash the term, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Montana Tester. Manchin had said in a tweet that he did not support any federal vaccine mandate for private companies. Tester’s office said its opposition was based on conversations with Montana companies that “have expressed deep concern about the negative effect on their bottom line and our state’s economy during this time of fragile recovery.”
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., Sided with the Biden administration, noting that the pandemic is still raging and deaths are predominantly among the unvaccinated.
“How on earth does it make sense right now to undermine one of the most powerful tools we have to get people vaccinated and stop this virus?” Murray said. “In what world is this a good idea?
The White House released a statement earlier this week saying Biden’s advisers would recommend that he veto the resolution in the unlikely event it makes it to his office.
“The president wants to see Americans back to work, and Americans back to work should not be at risk from those who are unvaccinated and refuse to be tested,” the White House said.
In the United States, deaths from COVID-19 average nearly 1,600 per day. The total death toll in the United States less than two years after the start of the pandemic could soon reach 800,000.
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