Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said he has joined an effort spearheaded by fellow Republican Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) to block President Joe Biden’s private employer COVID-19 vaccine mandate under the Congressional Review Act, the process by which Congress can scrap an executive branch rule.
Congressional Republicans, which include both Senate and House lawmakers, are seeking a formal nullification of Biden’s mandate, which calls for an estimated 80 million private-sector workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or provide at-least-weekly negative test results.
Biden said the mandate was being developed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in a Sept. 9 statement, when he accused unvaccinated Americans of causing “a lot of damage” and overcrowding hospitals. Subsequently, OSHA unveiled an emergency temporary standard requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to put into place a COVID-19 vaccine requirement with a testing opt-out or face fines of up to $13,600 per violation.
Hawley said in a Nov. 5 statement that Biden’s mandate threatens to worsen the current labor shortage and supply chain issues, is an “unconstitutional infringement on the fundamental rights of American citizens,” and “unlawfully bypasses established regulatory procedures.”
“He is ignoring this basic principle by forcing employers to require their workers be vaccinated, undergo rigorous testing procedures, or be fired. It’s wrong, will make our nation’s economic challenges worse, and must not be allowed to go into effect,” Hawley said.
The Missouri Republican is the latest Republican lawmaker to join the initiative, which Braun announced on Nov. 3, when he said he was leading an effort to nullify Biden’s mandate under the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to block an executive branch rule with simple House and Senate majorities.
“Since the announcement of President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandate in September, I have led the charge to strike down this vast overstep of authority by the federal government,” Braun said in a statement.
“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.”
For the initiative to work, the Republicans would need buy-in from some Democrats, who have a slim majority in the House and an effective one-member majority in the split Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the tie-breaking vote.
Braun told Breitbart News in a Nov. 4 interview that around 44 Senate Republicans were on board with the initiative and that he hoped some Democrats could be persuaded to back it.
“I got to believe a few of them [Democrats] are going to say, ‘Wait. Do I want to buy into more of this craziness, or do I want to get reelected?’ So it’ll put them all on record,” Braun told Breitbart.
Braun predicted that if Senate Democrats were to block the vaccine mandate disapproval resolution, it would weaken their chances at reelection in the 2022 mid-terms.
“If they decide to just toe the line, they’re going to be on the public record for those close Senate races in swing states in 2022,” Braun told the outlet.
Biden’s rule (pdf) will go into effect on Jan. 4, in a bid to raise vaccination rates and get more people back to work. A senior Biden administration official said on Nov. 4 that the White House believes the mandate will spur vaccinations across the country.
“Thousands of employers have answered the president’s call and stepped up to implement vaccination requirements covering tens of millions of Americans,” the official said.
A number of trade groups have issued warnings about the mandate, saying it would exacerbate supply chain bottlenecks and staffing shortages nationwide.