Little-used law forms basis of Republican challenge to Biden’s vaccine mandate

Dozens of Senate Republicans say they’ll use a little-employed law to try and block President Joe Biden’s order mandating private companies with 100 or more employees require them to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), the ranking member of a Senate committee on workplace safety and employment, is leading 39 other Republicans who say they’ll use the Congressional Review Act to challenge the president’s order.

The administration is expected to release the new rule this week through the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The rule will affect around 80 million workers and anyone who refuses to comply could face fines and other penalties.

“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,” The Hill reported.

If the law passes by some chance, it will likely be vetoed by Biden. And if that happens, Republicans have a steep uphill challenge: They would need to muster two-thirds of members in both chambers to vote to override the veto in order to stop the rule.

Democrats have a slim majority in the House and control an evenly-divided Senate thanks to the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris. But a ‘no’ vote on either the CRA or a veto override is likely to prove problematic for Democrats who are up for reelection during next year’s midterms, especially after the party took a shellacking in several high-profile races decided on Tuesday.

“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 noted in a statement.

Republicans have set up the debate over the issue as a matter of civil rights.

“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,” said 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,” he added.

Per The Hill: “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.).”

Short of that, several Republican-led states are teeing up to file suit against the administration over the rule when it is released.

Also, a growing number of GOP governors have signed measures barring companies in their states from imposing vaccine mandates on workers, including Florida, Texas, Iowa, and Missouri.

“When President Biden announced his initial plans to force unconstitutional vaccine mandates, we immediately began aligning state resources for legal action,” Missouri GOP Gov. Mike Parson said last week.

“While we hoped the Biden Administration would recognize these mandates as the abuse of authority that they are, they have not, and we must now use every tool we have available to fight this federal intrusion.”

Twenty-four Republican attorneys general have also sent a letter to Biden threatening to sue if he doesn’t rescind his order.

“Your plan is disastrous and counterproductive,” the group wrote in mid-September. “If your Administration does not alter its course, the undersigned state Attorneys General will seek every available legal option to hold you accountable and uphold the rule of law.”

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Jon Dougherty

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