According to a new rule by President Joe Biden, every business with more than 100 employees will soon make its employees choose between either vaccination or weekly testing.
Senate Republicans — led by Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana — have co-sponsored to measure to counter Biden’s policy. They’ve been joined by one Democrat: Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
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Manchin said in a statement on Thursday, “Let me be clear, I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses.”
“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19. I have personally had both vaccine doses and a booster shot, and I continue to urge every West Virginian to get vaccinated themselves,” he continued. “That’s why I have co-sponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses.”
Manchin described the Senate’s measure as a “bill.” However, it only qualifies as a resolution. In other words, it serves as a statement of intent, not as a binding law or a piece of legislation. It would give Biden a slap on the wrist.
As a resolution, it needs only 50 votes to pass the Senate, and it has amassed 50 signatures already.
It will likely pass the Senate, but it faces an uphill battle in the House of Representatives, the more heavily Democratic chamber of Congress.
Republican Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California doubted whether the House would even vote on it. McCarthy told reporters, “The challenge is how you bring it up on the floor… We’re not in the majority. We don’t control it.”
The White House expressed disagreement with Manchin.
“We simply disagree. We disagree based on what we feel is a preponderance of evidence of the effectiveness of requirements, vaccinating, or testing,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a press conference on Friday. “We disagree on that front, and we’re going to continue to press forward with these requirements.
Psaki also took issue with Machin’s use of the phrase “vaccine mandate.” Instead, she characterized Biden’s policy as a “vax or test” rule. After all, some employers have been mandating a flu shot for years, and these employers don’t always offer weekly testing as a way out.
Manchin has gained political influence as a swing voter in a closely divided Senate, and he’s become a thorn in the side of the Biden administration. In October he floated the possibility of leaving the Democratic Party during a conversation with reporters.
However, the Republicans aren’t betting too much Manchin. Immediately before Manchin criticized the vaccine policy, he spoke favorably of the Senate Democrats’ budget plan.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and as the new Omicron variant emerges, I will not vote to shut down the government for purely political reasons,” Manchin said in the same statement. “There is too much at stake for the American people.”
Biden has acknowledged Americans’ freedom to challenge the vaccine policy in court. The policy will take effect on Jan. 4 of 2022, unless it meets a successful challenge.
Tonight I voted to prevent a government shutdown and fund the federal government through February 18th, 2022 through a continuing resolution. My full statement: pic.twitter.com/UBicLvMpeq
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) December 3, 2021
The Horn editorial team