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US Senate Blocks Biden Vaccine Mandate

13.12.2021 - The US Senate has narrowly voted, 48 to 52, in favor of a Republican Party resolution to block president Joe Biden’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for companies employing 100 people or more. Two conservative senators from Biden’s Democratic Party voted with the opposition.

The vote against the administration’s plans, which call for either proof of vaccination or weekly testing, is seen as largely symbolic – and political – in particular because a court is currently hearing pooled challenges to the rules. Even if the Ohio appeals court chosen by lottery to hear the consolidated lawsuits upholds the stay on implementation, as expected, the president is sure to veto it. 

Calling the mandate “fatally flawed," a three-judge panel of the 5th circuit federal appeals court in New Orleans, Louisiana, said in November that the federal government had overstepped its authority. At least 34 lawsuits challenging the proposed rules have been filed to date, mostly by officials of Republican-governed states who said they were acting on behalf of corporate constituents.

The Biden administration estimates that the mandate could save more than 6,500 lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations over a six-month period. Nevertheless, if the Ohio court upholds the stay, the Justice Department has urged that at least the masking-and-testing policy for the unvaccinated remain in place while the litigation makes its way through the instances.

Separately, the administration will require Covid-19 vaccinations for all federal government employees and contractors as well as the US armed forces from January. These rules cannot be challenged.

Despite the lawsuits, estimates suggest that about 60% of US businesses that would be affected by the vaccine mandate are in favor of the government taking the unpopular measure out of their hands. At last count, 60.8% of the US adult population had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine as of Dec. 12.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist

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