Sen. Mike Braun’s Crusade Against COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates

The fight in Congress is on to make sure that the vaccine mandate never comes back, even though it is on hold pending court action.

One man is speaking out against such mandates, out of 50 Republicans in the Senate.

Braun is leading the charge against Biden's vaccine mandate for employers of 100 or more. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency within the Labor Department that the president designated to issue an emergency rule to implement the mandate, is being pushed back against by Braun.

Braun talks about what he and his congressional colleagues are doing to fight Biden's plan.
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The lightly edited transcript can be found below.

Sen. Mike Braun is our guest today. Senator, welcome to the show.

Sen. Mike Braun is happy to be on.

Blair: Excellent. We are here to discuss the federal vaccine mandate. The Biden administration put a pause on a federal COVID vaccine mandate that would have required companies with more than 100 employees to have their employees tested weekly to make sure that they were COVID negative. When the mandate was first announced, what did you think about it?

I knew that was going to happen when they said they were going to do it, because I was running a business before I got sworn in.

There has been little transmission at the entity level. Business school protocols were put in place in the early stages and transmission has not been happening there. Most companies put their employees in temperature check stations to make sure they are safe. Stay at home if you get sick. It has not been an issue.

The federal employees and contractors in my state were going to be impacted similarly due to how politicized this has become. They didn't back down in the sense that they could have said, "Hey, this is a bad idea." Let's forget it.

40% of employees in my state are not vaccine free. Main Street businesses were in on the idea of mandating anyway, so they will be the ones who will be affected.

I did that within a 10-day period, thanks to the court action and the fact that we got 50 Republican senators. The nine or 10 that didn't get on in the first few days because they were hearing the same thing back in their districts, they wanted to see the text, every one of them came on board to where that time clock is now running.

If you want something, it will be a public record if you vote for it, because it has to sit there for about 20 days.

It has a poll of 14. Two-thirds of Democrats at the grassroots level think it's crazy to say "Get the vaccine or lose your job"

Blair is interesting. I am interested in your thoughts on some reporting that you have heard from The Hill. According to The Hill, the Biden White House has encouraged large businesses to move forward with the vaccine mandate even though it is in legal limbo as to whether or not it will actually take effect. What do you think about the Biden White House saying that big businesses should be doing this?

Braun: I think they made another classic miscue, because they are doubling down on it. It would be similar to the departure from Afghanistan.

Immigration border issues along with jobs in the economy were the two biggest issues driving my campaign when I ran. It is happening again for different reasons. I don't know why they would want to force through something that is rejected as a bad idea.

The Biden administration came out and was going to make the companies look better, but that is mostly the biggest of companies. That is not Main Street entities. My family business is run by three of my four kids, and I was the CEO and CFO for 37 years. If you didn't have a title, it didn't make a difference. We are worried about the same thing.

There is a defense weapons facility just an hour or so up the road in our part of the state. They are in a cultural category where everyone is not comfortable with the vaccine, whether it is a government-related or business entity. Who knows what will happen if it is pushed?

The only formal thing we can do in the Congress is to use the Congressional Review Act, which is the only thing that can get them to push a little bit for the big companies, but back off when you get farther down the road.

Blair wants to highlight the Congressional Review Act that you have mentioned a couple of times. You and 49 other Senate Republicans are going to use this act to try and get rid of the mandate. Would you be able to give us more information about what that entails and what you hope to get out of it if it succeeds?

Some people think this is an executive order. It is not. They did this as a ruling. They did it within the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The 5th Appellate Court put a stay on it and the 6th will hear it.

The Congressional Review Act is the only way that Congress can abrogate a rule that comes from the executive branch. You can call it up for a vote if you want, but we need one Democrat to pass it through the Senate because it is just a 50-vote threshold. They would need the same in the House. President Joe Biden can veto it. We would have to get a veto override vote.

It is a political thing that is going to put all the swing-state Democratic senators on record that they are voting for something that two-thirds, if not more, of their voters are against.

Blair: Now, you need a Democrat to join with you to get this bill passed, or to get this act passed. Do you think you will get any support from the other side?

Braun said, "Hey, do you realize this polls at 14%?" Two-thirds of your Democratic supporters don't like the ultimatum, 'Get the vaccine or lose your job.' This has nothing to do with your view of the vaccine. The ultimatum is tied to it.

Every one of them will be on record. It is unlikely to be signed by Biden, even if we get one or two. That would be an unusual dynamic if he wouldn't veto it. It would take one of them to get it out of the Senate and the other to get it out of the House. He would not do that. He will veto it.

This is mostly about getting them on record, putting them in a place where that, along with the just swelling and opposition to it, all ends up where they may back off on their full implementation. The court has more time to work things out. Who knows where they end up?

They can dig the hole deeper, along with the border, and other things if we can't win with the people that they've given up.

At some point, they are going to have to say, "Hey, do we want to continue to go for broke on policies and ideas, or do we get it done?", and then worry about how the voters view it in 2022. I don't know what their calculation is.

The Congressional Review Act is the only act that Congress would be able to do. We have talked about how the Supreme Court might be able to deal with this mandate as well. How do you think the Supreme Court will rule on this case?

The 6th Appellate is the one we are going to go through first. The stay was put on it by the 5th Appellate. One thing working in our favor is that this thing can't move forward until the 6th Appellate Court rules on it.

The 5th did the same thing. The Supreme Court could say, "Hey, two of our appellate courts have already said, and they may choose to do nothing." They may say, "Hey, you can't get anything better." We don't need to go to the Supreme Court.

They will bring it up if they think it is important for the principal to make a statement long term. They could return it to the ruling that was given in the 6th. They may change it.

I think of the hearing component, which is going to delay its implementation for a couple of months.

I am not sure if it will draw a reaction from the Supreme Court or not. If they rule three-zip like the 5th did to stay it, they may just let it happen at the appellate level.

Blair is interesting. This is not the first time that the Biden administration has released an order that circumvents Congress. The courts had to stay the eviction moratorium because it ran into a similar issue. Do you think that will happen here as well?

I think it has the same kind of dynamic as that, but this is a little bit higher in terms of interest at a grassroots level. The eviction moratorium was impacting a small group of citizens. 93,000 entities are impacted by this between 100 employees and 500.

We were paying through the federal government to keep employees at their post up to $500 a year. There is an inherent contradiction here.

This is a bigger deal than anything the Biden administration has done. I think this is different than the other ones.

I think they have gotten so far ahead of their skis on this one, that maybe they can just ram it through. They had the large corporations helping them, but that was not enough support at the level of the very biggest companies. This is going into Main Street America, where businesses like mine are positioned, and it is a different point of view.

Blair: I think you have some insight that I would love to hear. On your Senate website, there is a post that reads, "Job creators oppose Biden's vaccine mandates for business." Have you heard any stories from people in your district who have been affected by this mandate?

Braun: Since I have been a senator for three years, you can get a hold of my senator on this one issue more than anything else. There is no comparison.

I will give you a vivid little story. It was one of the recent breaks when we were back at home and we were able to protect our business from it. One of the employees that I have known for a long time was talking about this when I left my office. Even though they will be exempt, where is our country going? How can the federal government be involved in this if it is a personal decision between you and your doctor?

The rest of the country is weighing in, even businesses that aren't going to be impacted by it that are under 100, because what is the next. Where does the Biden administration go to weigh in?

Blair says that inflation and supply chain issues are affecting a lot of Americans. Worker shortages are one of the causes. You can see help wanted signs in windows across the country. What do you think about how this vaccine mandate affects businesses?

The workforce was the biggest issue before covid. We need to talk about higher education stigmatizing against jobs that need a better high school education.

The workforce has been impacted in a way through this journey. Think about it. When the government comes in and makes all these bureaucratic decisions, you're essential and you're not, and then puts all that money into the system that allows individuals to not have to calculate what is the dynamic, the work ethic, is the government going to be my new business partner

Many that did not return to work had issues with navigating safely through the Pandemic. I told you earlier in the conversation that my observation had not been the issue. We took it seriously and there has been no transmission at places where you work.

How do people who have been staying at home and saving money through government stipends return to work? People have left the workforce in droves. When will they come back?

The government started changing the dynamic of unemployment when it started changing the dynamic of when you normally run into scrapes just due to economic reasons.

Blair thinks that America's recovery from the Pandemic is being affected by a strange unacceptance of natural immunity from a previous COVID infection as a substitute for vaccination.

The U.S. is one of the few countries that does not accept a previous infection from COVID-19 and recovery as the same or better than a COVID vaccine. How will this affect our recovery? Is there a way that we can match the rest of the world?

Braun said that the fact that that isn't counted plays on a lot of individual's minds, "Why do I need to be forced to have a vaccine when I've had it either asymptomatically or with minor symptoms and you're not giving it credit?"

It raises a question why they have been so cautious on the pill. They have bought into the idea that they would never take the Trump vaccine.

They get in there, embrace it, and then talk about what a great job they will do with getting it out there. It was going to be the sole solution, I think, with the American public.

We would be chasing our tail with vaccinations only. They are good to have a tripod with prophylactics and therapeutic drugs. They didn't want to talk about it. I think the second leg is going to be the most important tool of all because so many of our cases have been disproportionately affecting those that are very old.

I don't think we did enough to protect them, and I don't think we gave a full picture of how we live with this thing in the long run.

Blair: Do you think the politics of how COVID was handled is a factor in where we are now?

Braun: Definitely, because when you buy into stuff that you are only doing it for political reasons, it is very hard to look at the data. Let's use the science.

The need for two shots and a boost is fine, but it is not something you can push in the long run. I think that took some attention away from the effort of getting to what I think has solved the AIDS crisis. That is not a vaccine. That has been a combination of therapies.

There is a different way to approach a virus. When you push a political point of view so hard, it hurts to be honest with the American public. We will distill that and then bring it back to us. It looks like that won't happen in the future.

Blair: Now, Senator, I think we can pretty safely say that the federal vaccine mandate is not a good solution to getting America on the path to recovery from the Pandemic. What is the government's response to the epidemic? What does recovery look like to you?

Most of the things that could have been done differently, we didn't need to spend $4 trillion. Bureaucrats have a hold on the entire navigation. They did not check with Main Street. They didn't know that transmission wasn't happening at the workplace.

I think the government should be careful when navigating through something like this in the future because you don't want to politicize it. I think you give more credibility to the person who has the most incentive to navigate through this safely, the productive side of the economy. Do not put in policies like paying you to stay with your employer, spending tons of money, and having countervailing, contradictory things that keep getting put out there.

Who knows if that will be fully acknowledged until there is a change of ownership in D.C. I hope the government learns from it.

We are pretty much divided out here. You get statements like, "I would never take that Trump vaccine," and then you promote it as being the government that is taking it to the people. There are a lot of inherent contradictions. I would hope that next time, and hopefully there isn't a soon next time, but that we're honest in terms of the mistakes we made and maybe some of the right moves we made.

Blair: Excellent. Sen. Mike Braun is from Indiana. Senator, I appreciate you joining us.

Braun: Thanks, my pleasure.

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