Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said Thursday that he would join all 50 of his Republican colleagues in backing a resolution challenging President Biden’s vaccine mandate for private business.
“Let me be clear, I do not support any government vaccine mandate on private businesses,” Manchin said in a statement. “That’s why I have cosponsored and will strongly support a bill to overturn the federal government vaccine mandate for private businesses.”
Manchin added that the federal government should “incentivize, not penalize” private businesses to get their employees inoculated, while noting that “I have personally had both vaccine doses and a booster shot and I continue to urge every West Virginian to get vaccinated themselves.”
The Senate is expected to vote next week on a resolution of disapproval of the Biden administration rule requiring businesses with at least 100 employees to ensure that workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or implement weekly testing requirements.
The rule has been slammed by Republicans and drawn legal challenges from several states. If both houses of Congress approve the resolution by a simple majority and it is signed by the president — or if both chambers override a presidential veto — the rule would be invalidated.
“President Biden’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate for private businesses is not a partisan issue: it jeopardizes the freedoms and livelihoods of Americans in all 50 states,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who is leading the effort, said in a statement Friday.
“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,” he added.
While Braun’s effort is unlikely to ultimately succeed, Manchin’s support would give the resolution the votes needed to pass the Senate. The Indiana Republican told The Hill Thursday night that he is talking with other Democratic senators about lending their support to the resolution.
When asked about Manchin’s stance Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters: “We simply disagree.”
“We disagree based on what we feel is a preponderance of evidence of the effectiveness of requirements — vaccinating or testing,” she added.
“We [the federal government] have implemented requirements and we have seen 96.5 percent compliance, something we’re going to continue to build on,” Psaki said. “And these companies and the federal government are doing it for a range of reasons. It creates certainty. It allows people to feel safe in the workplace, and it’s good for the economy. So we disagree on that front, and we’re going to continue to press forward with these requirements.”