On Thursday evening, the U.S. Senate voted down an amendment to the 2022 Continuing Resolution (CR) that would have defunded vaccine mandates. The vote ultimately passed 47-46 after Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Richard Burr (R-NC) opted not to show up for the vote. The absent Republican senators gave Democrats, who were missing three votes themselves, the narrow majority they needed and ensured mandates would continue to receive funding.
The ill-fated amendment was put forward by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and would have defunded President Joe Biden’s remaining vaccine mandates. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) set the vote threshold to a majority, so it remains possible that he could have set the threshold to 60 if Republicans had enough votes to pass with a majority. However, Democrats did back down and opted not to fund Biden’s private employer mandate the last time the U.S. Senate voted on vaccine mandates. A GOP win on this vote could have at the very least, pressured vulnerable Democrats to vote “no” going forward.
The absent Republican Senators received widespread criticism from Congressional Republicans. “Missing R’s keeping vax mandates alive? Romney (UT), Inhofe (OK), Burr (NC), & Graham (SC). No excuses – they should all be shamed,” wrote U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) in a tweet. “Scumbags,” U.S. Rep. Anthony Sabatini bluntly stated in reference to the missing Senators, as well as the 19 Republican Senators who voted to fund the government. “The 19 @SenateGOP RINOs that voted to fund the Federal Government while it’s pushing vaccine mandates must each be primaried & ELIMINATED from the @GOP immediately,” Sabatini added in a later tweet.
— Rep. Anthony Sabatini (@AnthonySabatini) February 18, 2022
Missing R’s keeping vax mandates alive? Romney (UT), Inhofe (OK), Burr (NC), & Graham (SC). No excuses – they should all be shamed. Now – EVERY @SenateGOP should be held accountable for voting to fund this government. Watch, count the votes, then act. #DefundVaxMandates https://t.co/Wir53zOCmH
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) February 17, 2022
In December, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Biden’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandate for private employers. However, the federal government can still enforce mandates in certain employment sectors, which include mandates on medical workers, military personnel, federal employees, and federal contractors.