Biden's CMS vaccine mandate faces strong opposition from over 150 Republicans led by Jeff Duncan

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FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., is leading more than 150 Republicans in opposing President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers.

The South Carolina congressman recently introduced a resolution under the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which is privileged under congressional rules, that will halt the president’s mandate for virtually all healthcare employees by requiring a majority threshold to pass the House and Senate.

“We are concerned that if the Biden Administration moves forward with their vaccine mandate for medical personnel, the resulting staff shortages could actually cost lives instead of saving them,” Duncan said in a Thursday statement. “I initially brought up this concern in September in a letter to President Biden, but it is evident the Biden Administration has not considered the practicality, efficacy, and morality of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for staff within all Medicare and Medicaid-certified facilities.”

 Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., walks down the House steps following votes in the Capitol on Wednesday, May 25, 2016. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an emergency rule on Nov. 4 requiring vaccines for nearly all employees at a wide range of healthcare facilities receiving Medicaid or Medicaid funding.

Two federal courts in Missouri and Louisiana on Nov. 29 and Nov. 30 temporarily halted the mandate for health care workers, which “cover all states, the District of Columbia and the US Territories,” according to CMS. The agency has appealed both rulings and temporarily suspended enforcement of the rule.

“While CMS remains confident in its authority to protect the health and safety of patients in facilities certified by the Medicare and Medicaid programs, it has suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of this rule pending future developments in the litigation,” CMS Survey & Operations Group Director Karen Tritz and CMS Quality, Safety & Oversight Group Director David Wright said in a Dec. 2 memorandum.

 In this March 17, 2021, file photo, health worker administers a dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine during a vaccination clinic at the Grand Yesha Ballroom in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

The directors added that “surveyors must not survey providers for compliance” with vaccines with the preliminary injunctions are in effect.

Duncan added in his statement that employees “should never be forced to choose between receiving a shot or losing their livelihood.”

“Furthermore, this shortsighted mandate has the potential to exacerbate the current healthcare workforce shortage in a time when many states have hospitals that are at or exceeding capacity, and healthcare providers, especially nursing homes are struggling to hire and maintain staff,” he said. “The Biden administration pushes for mandates without any regard for the negative implications.”

North Memorial Health Hospital Critical Care Nurse Kayla Lynch donned a protective gown before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient during her shift Monday afternoon. (AARON LAVINSKY/ Star Tribune/ Associated Press)

Republican Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, M.D., said in a Thursday statement that with the CRA resolution, he and Duncan “are continuing to do everything” in their 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.”

Under the CRA, Congress can overturn an administration regulation once that regulation is in the Federal Register and received by the clerks of the House and Senate. 

The CMS vaccine rule was printed in the Federal Register on Nov. 5. The Senate and House clerks received the regulation on Dec. 1 and Dec. 9, respectively, according to Duncan’s office.

The House must now bring the resolution to the floor for a vote.

Fox News’ Houston Keene contributed to this report.

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