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Senate Rejects GOP Amendment Prohibiting Funding for Vaccine Mandate Enforcement

A man receives his second dose of the Moderna vaccine in Westbury, N.Y., May 6, 2021. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

An amendment to the short-term government funding bill that would have banned the use of federal funds to enforce COVID-19 vaccine mandates failed in the Senate on Thursday. 

The amendment, which failed in a 50-50 vote, was introduced by Senator Roger Marshall (R., Kansas) in response to President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal employees and companies with more than 100 employees. 

Marshall noted that while he, his wife and his parents had all received the vaccine, he believes the decision to get vaccinated is a “personal choice between individuals and their doctor” and should not be “mandated via unconstitutional executive actions that the administration recently acknowledged they didn’t have authority to put in place.” 

“No precedent exists in American history for punishing private employers who don’t enforce government vaccination edicts,” he added. “Astonishingly, House Democrats included fines up to $700,000 on businesses that have unvaccinated employees as a way to pay for their out of control spending. Make no mistake, this vaccine mandate is not about public health or science. If it were, we’d recognize natural immunity. We’d recognize natural immunity as a highly effective way to combat the virus.”

The amendment was one of several efforts Republicans have undertaken to combat Biden’s vaccine mandate efforts.

Biden announced earlier this month that his administration would develop rules to compel large companies to mandate coronavirus vaccines for employees and to require weekly negative test results for any unvaccinated workers. He said the rules would be developed by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and apply to companies with 100 or more workers.

Several red states plan to sue the Biden administration once OSHA issues the rule.

The plan was part of a larger initiative by the Biden administration that includes requiring vaccinations for all federal employees and workers for federal contractors, as well as for health care workers in most institutions that receive Medicare or Medicaid. The administration also called on all states to mandate vaccinations for teachers and other school employees.

The amendment was struck down on Thursday as the Senate worked to pass a two-month funding bill that would avert a government shutdown and keep federal agencies open until December 3.

The “clean” bill, which does not include a suspension of the debt limit, passed by a 65-35 vote. The House is expected to follow suit later in the day on Thursday.

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