Joe Manchin joins GOP, moves to block Biden's vaccine mandate for businesses

Manchin said the government "should incentivize, not penalize" businesses to enforce testing and vaccine mandates

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published December 7, 2021 2:14AM (EST)

Joe Manchin and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Joe Manchin and Joe Biden (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., recently joined a GOP effort to overturn President Biden's private sector vaccine mandate, backing a resolution that would effectively shut the requirement down. 

"Let me be clear, I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses," Manchin said in a statement last Thursday. "That's why I have cosponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses." 

"I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19," he added. 

Manchin's remarks came just following a temporary bipartisan agreement to avert a government shutdown amid the Senate's ongoing debt ceiling standoff. The stopgap measure will allot a similar level of funding to the federal government as last year's, during the Trump administration, POLITICO reported. During the vote, Republicans introduced an amendment to bar the use of federal funds for the enforcement of Biden's mandate, but the amendment failed. 

Still, Republicans have signaled that they won't pare back their longer-term crusade against Biden's mandate, which requires that private businesses with more than 100 employees enforce a vaccine requirement or force employees to undergo routine testing. 

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RELATED: Biden refutes claim that vaccine mandates are tyranny: "Even Fox News" has one

Aside from Manchin, the GOP-backed resolution – introduced by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., in mid-November – has support from Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

"I hope that more Democratic Senators and Representatives will follow Senator Manchin's strong lead and stand up against this federal overreach that will wreak havoc on our recovering economy and trample on the rights of millions of Americans," Braun said this week.

Amid legislative pushback, Biden's vaccine mandate is also facing challenges in state courts across the country, Newsweek noted

This week, a federal judge in Louisiana formally blocked Biden's requirement by issuing a nationwide injunction, arguing that "civil liberties face grave risks when governments proclaim indefinite states of emergency."

In Missouri, a federal judge last week likewise shot down Biden's mandate – which applies to Medicare and Medicaid employees – for certain healthcare workers across 10 states. 

"Congress did not clearly authorize CMS to enact this politically and economically vast, federalism-altering, and boundary-pushing mandate, which Supreme Court precedent requires," the Missouri judge wrote, calling the requirement "arbitrary and capricious."

The Biden administration is set to appeal state rulings against its mandate. 

RELATED: Ron DeSantis sues Biden administration over vaccine mandates

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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