With the Biden administration facing a growing wave of lawsuits to stop the president’s vaccine mandate on companies, an Indiana businessman-turned-senator believes he has the quickest way to kill it.
Sen. Mike Braun, backed by most GOP senators, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is hopeful of nixing the mandate through the arcane but effective Congressional Review Act. It would force a vote in both Houses just before Christmas and when 93,000 firms could be firing unvaccinated workers.
The act allows Congress to review federal rules, normally ignored by the House and Senate. In this case, he would target the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s new proposal that firms with 100-plus workers have all employees vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face a hefty fine.
It was used effectively in the first year of the Trump administration to kick start the former president’s effort to wipe away costly rules that put mountains of red tape and costs on the public.
Braun, a former farmer and auto parts distributor, feels forcing a vote will make centrist Democrats reconsider Biden’s unilateral mandate when the pink slips start flowing.
“I’ll give them credit,” he told us. “They’re like politician entrepreneurs who’ve never taken a Finance 101 class,” he said. "Are they just trying to produce catchphrases and things that you can take them to task on?”
In an interview, he cited a survey showing that very few — 14% — support the firing of employees who refuse COVID vaccinations.
What’s more, while the president has doubled down on requiring businesses to take the heat on the issue, he has started to pare back federal requirements on contractors and the military.
The OSHA rule came down yesterday, starting a near three-week period of review. During that time, Braun plans to take advantage of the process to call a vote, which will be decided by a simple majority.
Under congressional rules, a vote is guaranteed, and that is likely to pressure Democrats forced to choose a side on the federal mandate.
“Moderate Democrats in the House and the Senate will have to put on record if they support this federal overreach putting people out of work in their states,” said a Senate aide.