WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — The Senate approved a resolution overturning the Biden administration’s requirement that businesses with at least 100 employees force their workers to get vaccinated or test regularly for COVID-19.
Despite the rebuke, which included two Democratic senators, it’s unlikely to ever take effect. Sens. Joe Manchin (W.V.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) voted with all 50 Republicans.
The Democratic-led House is unlikely to take it up, which means the mandate would stand, though courts have put it on hold for now. Still, the vote would give senators a chance to come out against a policy that they say has sparked fears back home from businesses and from unvaccinated constituents who worry about losing their jobs should the rule go into effect.
“Every so often, Washington D.C. does something that lights up the phone lines. This is one of these moments,” said Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. At home, he said, “this issue is what I hear about. This issue is a top-of-mind issue.”
Lawmakers can invalidate certain federal agency regulations if a joint resolution is approved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president, or if Congress overrides a presidential veto. That’s unlikely to happen in this case.
Under the rule, private-sector companies with 100 or more workers must require their employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested for the virus weekly and wear masks on the job. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it would work with companies on compliance but would fine them up to more than $13,000 for each violation, though enforcement is suspended as the litigation unfolds.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Americans who have refused to get vaccinated are the biggest impediment to ending the pandemic. He implied that some of the resistance to mandated vaccines is based on politics.
“Some of the anti-vaxxers here in this chamber remind me of what happened 400 years ago when people were clinging to the ‘fact’ that the sun revolved around the Earth. They just didn’t believe science. Or 500 years ago, when they were sure the Earth was flat,” Schumer said.
The White House released a statement earlier this week stating that the president’s advisers would recommend he veto the resolution in the unlikely event it makes it to his desk.
“The president wants to see Americans back on the job, and Americans back at work should not face risk from those who are not vaccinated and who refuse to be tested,” the White House said.
Deaths in the United States stemming from COVID-19 are running close to 1,600 a day on average. The overall U.S. death toll less than two years into the pandemic could soon reach 800,000.
State and local vaccine mandates have also faced stiff resistance. Los Angeles’ school district fired nearly 500 people this week after they did not comply with its vaccine mandate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.