- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 30, 2021

More than 30 GOP senators are preparing legislation to nullify President Biden’s national COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

The lawmakers, led by Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Roger Marshall of Kansas, plan to introduce a resolution disapproving of the mandate under the Congressional Review Act. The oversight tool allows Congress to discard federal regulations finalized within the previous 60 legislative days.

“Tennessee’s health care workers should not be fired from showing up to work and providing lifesaving care,” said Mrs. Blackburn.

In November, the White House ordered the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to require coronavirus vaccinations for health care workers at facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid. The CMS estimates the mandate covers 76,000 facilities and more than 17 million health care workers across the country.

“Ensuring patient safety and protection from COVID-19 has been the focus of our efforts … [The mandate] addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.

Since its implementation, the mandate has been struck down or halted by half a dozen jurisdictional courts. The move has created significant confusion as the mandate for health care workers remains in effect in certain parts of the country, but not others.

SEE ALSO: Supreme Court to hear challenges to Biden COVID-19 vaccine mandates

The Supreme Court has announced it will hear oral arguments about the constitutionality of the mandate sometime next year.

Republicans say that while the court’s decision is a boon, it will take months for a final determination to be made. They argue that health care workers, long on the front lines of the pandemic, do not have the luxury of time since their jobs are at risk right now.

“This resolution will stop the CMS from firing the nurses, doctors, and medical professionals that care for the elderly, poor, and most vulnerable,” Mrs. Blackburn said.  

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Earlier his month, the Senate voted along bipartisan lines to invoke the Congressional Review Act and nullify Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate for private employers. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana voted with all 50 Republicans to rebuke the mandate.

The resolution is now awaiting action in the House, where it faces long odds. Mr. Biden also can veto the legislation.

SEE ALSO: Biden asks Supreme Court to reinstate vaccine mandate on health workers

GOP lawmakers say the Congressional Review Act is an important tool to rein in executive overreach.

As part of the procedure, both the Senate and House are required to pass a resolution of disapproval. Within the Senate, the resolution only requires a simple majority of 51 votes for passage.

Once the resolution is passed by Congress and signed by the president, federal agencies are prohibited from reissuing the same regulation or a rule similar in scope unless approved by Congress via legislation.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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