The Senate on Thursday did not pass a Republican amendment seeking to block President Biden’s vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses with 100 or more workers.
Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) introduced the bill, which would prohibit the use of federal funds for vaccine mandates. It happened during a series of votes on amendments to a stopgap government funding bill.
Earlier this month, Biden announced that his Department of Labor would propose a rule requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to require employees to be vaccinated or tested once per week.
Marshall said that while the “vaccine has saved lives,” taking it should be a “personal choice.”
“Simply put, we must not allow the Administration’s unconstitutional vaccine mandate on private companies to go forward,” he added.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) spoke out against the amendment, citing the nearly 700,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 and the flags that mark their graves.
“Drive down the mall and look at the flags by the Washington Monument,” he said, noting the amendment “weakens one of our strongest tools to get people safely through this crisis.”
Republicans have largely condemned Biden’s decision, calling it an infringement on their personal liberty.
“Forcing main street to vax or pay a fine will not only crush an economy he’s put on life support—it’s flat-out un-American,” House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) tweeted earlier this month in response to Biden’s announcement. “To Joe Biden, force is more important than freedom. Americans won’t stand for it.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has frequently encouraged people to get vaccinated, but he also voted for the amendment on Thursday.
Democrats have increasingly embraced vaccine mandates as a popular issue critical to controlling the pandemic.