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Centrist Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Jon Tester Vote to Undo Biden’s Vaccine Mandate

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Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana — voted Wednesday along with 50 Republicans to overturn President Biden’s corporate vaccine mandate.

The 52-48 vote sends the proposed legislation to the Democrat-led House of Representatives, where the bill is not expected to be put to the vote, meaning it has been effectively rejected.

Biden’s mandate ordered companies with 100 employees or more to obtain vaccination certificates from their employees or subject them to weekly tests and masks by Jan. 4.

Manchin and Tester argued that the ramifications of the implementation of the mandate would largely be felt on the country's already bruised economy.

Two Senate Democrats — Joe Manchin (right) of West Virginia and Jon Tester (left) of Montana — voted Wednesday along with 50 Republicans to overturn President Biden’s large-business vaccine mandate

It would have applied to about 84 million private sector workers, of whom about 31 million are estimated to be unvaccinated.

Wednesday’s vote follows a federal judge’s decision on Tuesday to block the mandate because it “exceeds government authority.”

Manchin and Tester argued that the ramifications of the implementation of the mandate would largely be felt on the country’s already bruised economy.

Senate Republican Mitch McConnell called Biden’s mandate an “illegal” and “absurd” attempt by the government to micromanage the lives of individuals.

“President Biden’s absurd private sector vaccine mandate is a blatant oversight.” said McConnell. “The United States of America is a free country. The elites of the federal government in Washington cannot micromanage the personal choices of citizens without a legitimate basis in law and the Constitution.”

Biden's mandate ordered companies with 100 employees or more to obtain vaccination certificates from their employees or subject them to weekly tests and masks by Jan. 4.  Wednesday's vote follows a federal judge's decision Tuesday to block the mandate because it 'exceeds government authority'

Biden’s mandate ordered companies with 100 employees or more to obtain vaccination certificates from their employees or subject them to weekly tests and masks by Jan. 4. Wednesday’s vote follows a federal judge’s decision Tuesday to block the mandate because it ‘exceeds government authority’

The 52-48 vote, which is unlikely to become law, sends legislation to the Democrat-led House of Representatives, where the bill is not expected to be put to a vote

The 52-48 vote, which is unlikely to become law, sends legislation to the Democrat-led House of Representatives, where the bill is not expected to be put to a vote

The initiative underscores the intense political opposition the government faces to fight COVID-19 at a time when health officials are trying to contain the highly contagious Omicron strain.

“I have always supported a vaccine mandate for federal workers and the military because maintaining essential services and military preparedness that the federal government provides is a matter of national concern,” Manchin said in a statement after the vote.

“However, I am not in favor of a government vaccine mandate for private companies. It is not the federal government’s place to tell private business owners how to protect their employees from COVID-19 and how to run their business,” he said.

Tester announced he would vote in favor of blocking the mandate on Twitter.

“In recent months, I have repeatedly heard concerns from small businesses and community leaders in Montana about the negative effect the vaccine’s mandate on private companies will have on their bottom line and our state’s economy,” he wrote in the statement.

“That’s why I plan to join a two-part majority of my colleagues in defending jobs and small businesses in Montana against these cumbersome regulations. I urge every eligible Montana to get vaccinated as soon as possible so we can end this pandemic once and for all.”

Tester announced he would vote to block the mandate on Twitter before the vote took place

Tester announced he would vote to block the mandate on Twitter before the vote took place

Manchin had previously expressed his disapproval of Biden's vaccine mandate

Manchin had previously expressed his disapproval of Biden’s vaccine mandate

Republicans have said they were inundated with calls from companies with up to 500 employees who were concerned about having to fire employees who resist COVID-19 vaccines and tests.

“It scared Main Street America,” Republican Senator Mike Braun, who heads the legislature, said before the Senate vote.

The White House said in a statement Tuesday that employers would not be affected by the mandate because the vast majority of American adults are fully vaccinated, noting that the rule exempts small businesses.

Biden’s private affairs mandate has already been suspended by a federal appeals court.

“The abuse of power by the Biden administration has stopped cold again,” said Alan Wilson, a Republican who is South Carolina’s attorney general.

Tuesday’s ruling by Baker, an appointee of President Donald Trump, temporarily halted the last remaining business mandates Biden announced, as courts found the administration exceeded its jurisdiction in imposing the rules.

Judges have already issued a deferment regarding one that applies to companies with 100 or more employees and another to health care workers in the U.S.

Those mandates have been challenged by Republican governors, business associations and conservative civil liberties groups.

The United States has the world's highest daily average of newly reported coronavirus infections

The United States has the world’s highest daily average of newly reported coronavirus infections

The virus has infected 49.5 million Americans and killed more than 794,000, the highest death toll of any country, according to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker

The virus has infected 49.5 million Americans and killed more than 794,000, the highest death toll of any country, according to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker

A US judge in Georgia also blocked a Biden vaccine mandate targeting federal contractors on Tuesday.

The process is likely to take months and could revive the rules, which affected nearly 100 million workers, although about 83 percent of American adults have received at least one injection, according to government data.

“We are in the midst of a public health crisis. Everyone sees the damage it causes,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat, said in a speech. “The way to solve this is by directing science.”

The United States has the world’s highest daily average of newly reported coronavirus infections.

The virus has infected 49.5 million Americans and killed more than 794,000, the highest death toll in any country, according to the Reuters COVID-19 Tracker.

Republicans praised the measure’s bipartisan support as a clear message of public concern about the mandate’s potential impact on workers, businesses and the economy.

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