The Senate passed a joint resolution (S.J. Res. 29) in a 52-48 vote on Dec. 8 to nullify a Biden administration rule that would direct large employers to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or pass weekly tests. Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) joined all 50 Republicans in voting for the measure, though it faces a murkier path in the House of Representatives.
The resolution was passed through special rules set forth in the Congressional Review Act (P.L. 104-121), which allow members to force a vote on the floor of either chamber with a simple majority. For the resolution to advance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) must schedule a vote in the House or a majority of members can petition to bring it to the floor. Should the House pass the measure, President Joe Biden is likely to veto it. The Biden administration released a Statement of Administration Policy on Dec. 7 stating, “If Congress were to pass this resolution of disapproval, the President’s advisors would strongly recommend that he veto the resolution.”
The Biden administration announced a six-pronged approach to further combat COVID-19 during a public address on Sept. 9, which directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or weekly COVID-19 testing for employees [refer to Washington Highlights, Sept. 10]. On Nov. 4, OSHA announced requirements regarding COVID-19 vaccinations for employees that were scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 4, 2022 [refer to Washington Highlights, Nov. 5]. The ETS has been challenged in court and has been halted due to an injunction by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit.