Forty Senate Republicans led by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), the ranking member of a Senate committee on employment and workforce safety, say they will use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to challenge President Biden’s new order requiring large employers to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Biden administration is expected this week to issue a new rule mandating vaccination requirements at businesses with more than 100 employees. The rule will affect as many as 80 million workers, and those who don’t comply face stiff fines.
Braun and other Republicans will attempt to force the Senate to vote on a resolution disapproving of the rule. It must be passed by the Senate and the House, both of which Democrats control, and be signed into law by the president.
If Biden vetoes the disapproval resolution, Republicans would have to muster a two-thirds vote in each chamber to override the veto and stop the rule from taking effect. Their effort is expected to fall short because Democrats control 50 Senate seats, but it could be a tough vote for vulnerable incumbents up for reelection next year.
“Today, we are one step closer to protecting the liberties of millions of Americans in the private sector workforce under the Congressional Review Act. I urge my Senate colleagues to vote in favor of this disapproval resolution in the coming weeks,” Braun said in a statement, announcing broad support within the Senate Republican Conference for challenging Biden’s vaccination mandate for large employers.
Under Biden’s proposal, large private-sector employers would have to require employees to become vaccinated or get tested weekly for COVID-19 as a condition of employment. Workplace vaccination mandates have become a controversial topic around the country.
Southwest Airlines provoked a backlash from its employees by requiring they get vaccinated to comply with Biden’s expected order. The company’s pilots union challenged the mandate, but a federal judge last week rejected its request to issue a temporary restraining order against the mandate.
Southwest backed off its policy some by announcing recently that it wouldn’t fire employees who refused to get vaccinated.
Senate Republicans are framing the battle over vaccination mandates as a debate over civil liberties.
“We all want to put this pandemic behind us, but the decision to vaccinate is an individual choice and should not be mandated by the federal government,” Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said in a statement. “The federal government does not have the constitutional or statutory authority to take this action and to make this clear we will be exercising our congressional authority to overturn this rule with a Congressional Review Act resolution.”
Other Republicans supporting the challenge include Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Senate Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.).