Senate Will Vote to Repeal OSHA's Vax-or-Test COVID Rule

Senate Republicans will target the Biden administration's private employer vaccine-or-test mandate using a law they successfully employed during the beginning of the Trump administration to recall a slew of environmental regulations.

December 8, 2021, 11:00 AM PST

By Irvin Dawid

U.S. Capital

Jeri Bland / Shutterstock

The private employer requirement for companies of 100+ employees included in the "Vaccinating the Unvaccinated" prong of President Biden's "Path Out of the Pandemic" was paused by a federal appeals court last month. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has since suspended work on its emergency temporary standard but that hasn't stopped Senate Republicans from trying to ensure it dies.

"The Senate is set to vote this week on a resolution to nullify President Biden's vaccine mandate for private companies, as Republicans and at least one Democrat push back on the administration's rule requiring vaccines or inconvenient testing rules for workers at large businesses," reports Tyler Olson of Fox News on Dec. 6.

All 50 Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., backed a challenge to the vaccine mandate last month under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). That law allows Congress to officially disapprove of an executive branch regulation via a resolution passed through each chamber. 

In his Nov. 17 press release, Braun said, “Today, Senate Republicans will formally challenge the overreach of federal power that is President Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for private businesses, and I urge the Senate to vote in favor of this disapproval resolution when it comes to the Floor for a filibuster-proof, simple-majority vote as soon as early December."

"President Biden’s vaccine mandate is an unconstitutional invasion of what should be a personal medical decision for every American and an affront to the rights of 80 million American workers," Braun told Fox News on Nov. 17.

Two Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of W. Va and John Tester of Montana, recently announced their support for the Senate Joint (SJ) Resolution 29, which "only needs a simple majority to pass the Senate, which means the bill will likely succeed," added Olson. Where it goes from there is another story.

Rep. Fred Keller, R-Pa., is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives, which his office said Friday has 206 cosponsors. But House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Friday it is unlikely the bill could come for a vote in the House with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in charge.

Even if Republicans and potentially a handful of Democrats manage to force a House vote on the CRA resolution, such resolutions are subject to a presidential veto. And it's highly unlikely Biden would sign a bill canceling a rule he ordered his administration to make. 

Déjà vu

Use of the Congressional Review Act brings back memories of the initial months of the Trump administration in 2017 when Republicans used a provision allowing regulation rollbacks (here was the first) during the first 60 legislative days.

A post in May of that year, "Congress Fails to Roll Back Obama-Era Methane Emissions Rule," notes:

"The vote marked the first time since Trump’s election that Republicans have failed in their attempt to use the Congressional Review Act to overturn Obama-era rules. Thirteen other resolutions, based on the 1996 law that allows Congress to overturn rules within 60 legislative workdays of their adoption, have succeeded."

Trump's Department of Interior went on to successfully suspend the Obama-era methane rule in December 2017.

Four years later, Republicans will  use the CRA again to roll back a rule written by a Democratic administration. In the current case, it's public health, not the environment, that is at stake.

Related in Planetizen:

Hat tip to Chuck Todd for asking his guest, Sen. Mike Braun, on his show last Sunday about his positions on abortion and vaccine mandates:

"You don't want the government to force people to get a vaccine. You're essentially advocating for the government to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term that she may not want to do."

In response, Braun focused on his use of the Congressional Review Act.

Monday, December 6, 2021 in FOX News

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