Blackburn, Marshall, Colleagues Lead Opposition to Biden’s Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers

December 30, 2021

NASHVILLE, TENN. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), M.D. are continuing their charge 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 and Medicaid Services (CMS) vaccine mandate for virtually all healthcare employees and prevent any similar rule from being proposed in the future.
“Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandates punish essential workers who put their lives on the line to serve their communities,” said Senator Blackburn. “Tennessee’s healthcare workers should not be fired from showing up to work and providing lifesaving care. This resolution will stop the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from firing the nurses, doctors, and medical professionals that care for the elderly, poor, and most vulnerable.”  
“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-Ky.), 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.”
“America’s frontline health workers have done incredible, life-saving work throughout this pandemic, but the difficulties and challenges of the last two years have taken a toll. The Biden Administration’s sweeping vaccine mandate risks exacerbating the staffing shortages and burnout health care providers are already facing. Ensuring workplace and patient safety is critical, but so is making sure Medicare and Medicaid recipients have access to the care they need. However, a one-size-fits-all federal mandate 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 the authorities entrusted to it by the Constitution,” said Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee.
Additional Senators that joined in introducing the CRA include Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and John Boozman (R-Ark.). U.S. Representative Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) 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 a rule issued by a federal agency, 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 cosponsors, 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 three federal courts in Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. The ongoing cases prohibit the mandate in 25 states but permit the implementation in 25 states. The courts determined that the government lacked the authority to implement the CMS mandate. In reaching this decision, the courts specifically noted the agency’s failure to comply with the regulatory requirements of notice-and-comment rulemaking and questioned the agency’s decision to reject natural immunity as an alternative to vaccination.