EXCLUSIVE - A group of Republican senators on Wednesday sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., expressing their intention to block federal funding for a potential federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
President Biden on Sept. 9 announced plans to require businesses with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing for workers.
"…We will oppose all efforts to implement and enforce it with every tool at our disposal, including our votes on spending measures considered by the Senate," the letter led by Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., states. "To be sure, we agree that countless Americans have benefitted from the protection offered by the COVID-19 vaccines. Nevertheless, the decision whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19 is a highly personal one that should never be forced upon individuals by the federal government."
Marshall practiced medicine in Great Bend, Kansas, for 25 years as an OB/GYN and also owned a small business.
The Kansas senator and other Republicans point to the potential COVID-19 vaccine requirement as a hurdle for small businesses to attract and retain employees amid pandemic-related supply chain and worker shortages. They cite potential frontline worker losses that could result from such a mandate, including reductions in police officers, medical workers, truckers, pilots and military service members across the U.S.
"President Biden is waging a cruel campaign to punish unvaccinated Americans—depriving them of their ability to provide for their families," the senators wrote. "This is nothing short of immoral. There are so many humane ways to defeat this virus. Depriving law-abiding citizens of their livelihood must not be included among them."
Ten Republican senators had signed the letter as of Wednesday afternoon, including Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma.
While mandating the vaccine may prove to be a challenge for the Biden administration, data from a new survey conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 7 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and life insurance company Metlife found that many businesses plan on implementing a vaccine requirement in spite of worker shortages.
More than 60% of small business owners support a vaccine requirement, while 56% do not expect business to return to "normal" business for at least another six months, according to the survey of about 500 businesses with 500 or less employees.
Additionally, 44% of small businesses reported difficulties in finding promising candidates to fill open roles, according to the survey.
Marshall and other senators ask that Schumer be advised that before the end of the current spending period on Dec. 3, they "will not support—and will use all means at our disposal to oppose—legislation that funds or in any way enables the enforcement of President Biden’s employer vaccine mandate."
Republican senators will also refuse to "vote for or support cloture on any continuing resolution in the absence of language protecting Americans from this action," the letter states.
Additionally, more than three dozen Senate Republicans led by Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana moved to formally disapprove and nullify President Biden’s vaccine mandate on private employees Wednesday under the Congressional Review Act — the official process for Congress to eliminate an executive branch rule.
Biden's proposed vaccine mandate is anticipated to impact more than 80 million private-sector workers across the United States. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is expected to publish the formal mandate.
Fox News' Brooke Singman contributed to this report.