Washington, D.C.--U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kansas), and Republican colleagues are continuing the fight against harmful federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates with the introduction of a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). This resolution would halt President Biden’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate for virtually all healthcare employees and prevent any similar rule from being proposed in the future.
“Vaccines have historically proven to be vital to the public health goal of disease prevention. We had record vaccine development, thanks to American medical ingenuity and Operation Warp Speed. However, a one-size-fits-all federal mandate on vaccines and private business practices is not a reasonable solution now--or ever. Medical decisions are best left to patients and their doctors. I will continue to fight to ensure the federal government stays within its authorities entrusted to it by the Constitution,” said Senator, Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee.
“The Biden Administration’s CMS vaccine mandate is a slap in the face to the hard-working men and women who never took a day off in the frontline fight of the COVID-19 battle. These heroes of the pandemic are being fired for choosing not to take the COVID vaccine, despite many of them having immunity through natural infection. As a physician, I’m confident the vaccine has saved lives; however, whether to receive it is a personal choice between individuals and their doctor – not mandated via executive actions,” said Senator Marshall. “With this CRA, we are continuing to do everything in our power to fight for those who ran to the sound of the battle – for these are the true heroes of the pandemic and deserve our best fight and utmost respect.”
“Our doctors, nurses, and first responders have been on the front lines since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives and keeping our healthcare system running smoothly. Now, President Biden’s policies threaten to fire many of those heroic essential workers and exacerbate labor force shortages at our hospitals and first response systems,” said Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Republican Leader. “I have consistently urged everyone to receive their safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible. I am pro-vaccination. But the federal government should not have the power to dictate individual medical decisions or place additional burdens on our healthcare system by placing mandates on these heroes.”
Additional Senators that joined in introducing the CRA include Senators Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), John Hoeven (R-North Dakota), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), James Risch (R-Idaho), Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Rick Scott (R-Florida), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas). U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan (R-South Carolina) and Republican leaders from the House Energy and Commerce Committee are leading the effort in the House.
The Congressional Review Act is a legal tool whereby Congress can overturn rules issued by federal agencies, once it has been properly noticed. “Proper notice” occurs once a regulation is printed in the Federal Register and received by the Clerks of the House and Senate. The CMS vaccine mandate regulation was printed in the Federal Register on November 5, 2021. It was noted as received by the Senate Clerk on December 1, 2021, and by the House Clerk on December 9, 2021. With more than 30 original co-sponsors, the resolution will receive privilege in the Senate, which means the Senate must bring the legislation to the Floor for a vote in the coming weeks.
The CMS vaccine mandate is temporarily prohibited from taking effect by two federal courts in Louisiana and Missouri. Specifically, the judges determined cause, questioning CMS’ authority to issue a vaccine mandate including how the agency bypassed regulatory requirements on notice-and-comment rulemaking, its lack of evidence in breaking precedent from recommending vaccinations, and not acknowledging natural immunity. In addition, the federal court judges agreed on the distress and economic harm it would cause states from exacerbated staffing shortages at health care facilities. For nursing homes and rural health providers, which already face staff shortages, losing even one percent of staff is catastrophic in their field. These providers would be forced to limit available services or close their doors for not meeting minimum staffing requirements. The federal judge in Missouri further commented that the states’ challenges to the regulation were likely to succeed based on the merits.