Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
In what will likely prove a ceremonial gesture, the U.S. Senate voted 52-48 Wednesday night to block President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses.
All 50 Senate Republicans and a pair of Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, combined to approve the measure, which will face almost certain defeat in the House and an even more certain veto by the president even if the House were to approve the measure.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), the bill’s sponsor, celebrated the passage of the legislation saying that, if nothing else, it sent a message to Biden about the will of the people:
Tonight, the Senate voted to overturn President Biden's vaccine mandate for private businesses.
This bipartisan vote is a crystal clear message to the @WhiteHouse: Back off, and stop this crazy federal overreach immediately.
— Senator Mike Braun (@SenatorBraun) December 9, 2021
Manchin, as has become a frequent occurrence, represented a key swing vote. The moderate chose to cosponsor the bill, he said, because he felt vaccine mandates were a less effective way to gain businesses’ assistance in the fight against COVID-19.
“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” Manchin said as part of a statement shared on his official Twitter account:
Tonight I voted to prevent a government shutdown and fund the federal government through February 18th, 2022 through a continuing resolution. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/UBicLvMpeq
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) December 3, 2021
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was the most vocal opponent of the measure and urged Senators to vote down the bill.
After the bill passed, she called out the Republican proposal on Twitter, saying it was a “dangerous resolution that’d jeopardize our economy & pandemic response by blocking a simple, flexible, lifesaving rule for large employers to require vaccines OR weekly COVID tests.”
In a separate tweet, Murray endorsed vaccine mandates on the grounds of pragmatism: “The biggest threat to our workforce and economy is the virus that has killed over 785k people & shuttered businesses and we should be using every tool—especially vaccines—to protect our country, economy, our families from it.”
As of this writing, neither Biden nor the White House has responded to the Senate’s move, but the administration has long vowed to use every legal means at its disposal to preserve vaccine mandates.
Biden’s plans to compel vaccinations have been met with intense resistance across the nation, and all three mandates Biden has imposed have been paused via court order in recent months. As a result of one of these federal court ruling, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration paused its vaccine mandate for private businesses with more than 100 people.