The U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan resolution Wednesday night opposing President Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate with a 52-48 vote. Both Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen voted against the measure, instead backing a struggling Democratic president and the federal government’s power to force workers at private businesses to get vaxxed.
Two of their fellow Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), crossed the aisle to vote with Senate Republicans in supporting a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) disapproving the mandatory vaccine requirement for private businesses.
It now goes to the House, where Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) has already announced his opposition to Biden’s mandates. His Granite State colleague, Rep. Annie Kuster, is a vocal mandate supporter.
Biden has pledged to veto the resolution if it reaches his desk.
The vote was made possible by the CRA, which gives the minority party more power to potentially overturn federal rules. There is no similar power for the minority party in the House, however.
The Granite State’s delegation has stumbled on the mandate issue in the past.
Asked by NHJournal in October what she would say to Granite Staters who will lose their jobs over Biden administration vaccine mandates, Hassan claimed — incorrectly — that there was no such mandate.
“I just add that, except for healthcare facilities, the requirements here are that people either get vaccinated or get tested twice a week,” Hassan said.
In fact, as has been widely and repeatedly reported, Biden’s executive order requires all federal workers and employees of companies with federal contracts to get vaccinated — period. While Biden’s mandate on private companies would offer a testing option, the mandate on federal workers does not.
Hassan’s vote should not have come as a surprise. In a recent letter to constituents, Hassan called Biden’s mandate on private businesses “an appropriate part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to follow the science and save lives.”
Shaheen’s take on mandates, on the other hand, had been less clear of late. In a constituent letter earlier this month she wrote:
“You may also be aware that, on September 10, 2020, the Biden administration announced new rules mandating vaccination or routine testing for federal employees and contractors, large employers and health care providers receiving Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. Those rules are still in the process of being finalized at the Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Please know that I will keep your thoughts in mind should a vote on a federal vaccination mandate ever come before the Senate,” Shaheen wrote.
Whatever she may have had in mind, Shaheen made the decision to vote with the Democratic majority.
“My opinion on mandates hasn’t changed,” Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told NHJournal hours before Wednesday night’s vote. “I don’t think the government should be in the business of mandating vaccines, or of telling businesses they can’t mandate vaccines.”
Sununu said he believes the rules for vaccines should be the same today as before the COVID-19 pandemic began: Governments shouldn’t be “getting in the way” of private businesses and people making these decisions on their own.
“I don’t want to see anyone let go [from a job] because of a vaccine mandate or anything like that,” Sununu said.
A new Wall Street Journal poll found Americans nearly evenly split on Biden’s mandate on private businesses, 50 to 47 percent. “Twenty percent of Republicans said they favor Mr. Biden’s vaccine requirements for larger employers, compared with 41 percent of independents and 88 percent of Democrats,” the WSJ reported. A majority of independents oppose the mandate, they added.
A St. Anselm College poll in October found Granite Staters narrowly opposed a “New Hampshire vaccine mandate” 46-52 percent.
The two Democratic senators may have been moved by the need to back a Democratic president in political trouble. That same WSJ poll found Biden’s job approval is a dismal 41-57 percent.
Even more disturbing is the new TIPP poll finding just 22 percent of Americans want Biden to run for re-election. That includes just 37 percent of Democrats.