Senate votes to repeal Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandates for businesses
"We are one step closer to protecting the liberties of millions of Americans," Sen. Mike Braun said.
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In a major rebuke to President Joe Biden, the Senate voted 52-48 to repeal the administration's COVID-19 vaccine mandate requiring private businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated, undergo testing, or be fired.
The final vote of the evening on Wednesday, the bill was unanimously supported by Republicans, and Democrat Sens. Jon Tester (Mont.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.), the latter of whom was the bill's only Democrat cosponsor.
The bill was spearheaded by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), according to his office. When he announced the legislation in November, he wrote in a press release, "We are one step closer to protecting the liberties of millions of Americans in the private sector workforce."
The vaccine mandate, issued by executive order, affects more than 80 million Americans, and would impose a $14,000 fine on those who do not comply.
In an op-ed published Wednesday, Sen. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.V.) and Sen. Braun wrote, "The coronavirus vaccines developed under the Trump administration’s 'Operation Warp Speed' are medical miracles, but the decision to get vaccinated should be a personal health choice. It shouldn’t be up to President Joe Biden."
"A year ago this week, Biden said of the COVID-19 vaccines, 'I don’t think they should be mandatory. I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory.' Then he went back on his word, mandating vaccines for private sector employees," they continued.
After the bill passed, Sen. Braun tweeted, "No one should be forced to choose between getting a vaccine and losing their job."
The legislation comes as President Biden's mandates have been blocked in courts. A judge on Tuesday blocked Biden's requirement for federal contractors to be vaccinated. Last week, a judge issued a preliminary injunction to halt the administration's vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
The legislation will head to the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to face a difficult battle to pass.