Senate rejects Biden vaccine mandate for businesses, with 2 Democrats joining Republicans

Senate votes to repeal Biden federal vaccine mandate for businesses
The Senate voted Wednesday to repeal a President Biden-backed federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate for private businesses.

The final vote was 52-48. Moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana joined Republicans to vote in favor of the repeal.

Republicans brought the repeal to the Senate floor under the “Congressional Review Act,” which allows Congress to review presidential executive orders. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., who sponsored the resolution, said the mandate was an example of the “heavy hand of government” hurting businesses.

The Biden administration’s mandate requires private companies with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo regular testing. Firms that do not comply face steep fines.

The mandate prompted immediate legal challenges from several states as well as business and religious groups. Last month, a federal appeals court enacted a temporary hold on enforcement of the mandate pending the outcome of litigation.

Even with Senate approval, the GOP-backed resolution is unlikely to overturn the mandate. The Democrat-controlled House is not expected to take up the measure and President Biden would likely veto the bill if it cleared Congress. CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON OUR TOP STORY

In other developments:
– Los Angeles school district fires hundreds of employees who refused to get vaccine
– Finland’s 36-year-old prime minister apologizes for clubbing after COVID-19 close contact
– Georgia federal judge latest to halt Biden federal contractor vaccine mandate
– GOP senators say they believe House will take up anti-vaccine mandate bill, force Biden veto
– COVID cases top 100K per day despite US hitting 200M vaccine milestone
– Omicron: Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine may only partially protect against new variant, study suggests

Los Angeles County DA blasted over ‘tone deaf’ news conference on crime: ‘An embarrassment’
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon was surrounded by several colleagues from other states Wednesday while defending his policies amid a second recall attempt to oust him and a crime wave of shootings and brazen burglaries.

Gascon, a former San Francisco police chief, has taken heat since taking office last year over his rollback of tough-on-crime measures like the death penalty, charging juvenile suspects as adults and the leveling of criminal enhancements, which can significantly increase prison sentences.

“We have set a path for ourselves and turned around the criminal legal system in the country in a way that will be more humane, more equitable and, above all, will create a safer environment for all of us,” he claimed during a news conference.

“Before I took office, the legal system here offered victims one solution after someone causes harm: a long sentence,” Gascon continued. “We operated towards victims like a factory making widgets.”

Gascon’s most ardent critics include Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, some of his own prosecutors, and crime victims who accuse him of abandoning his responsibility to prosecute criminals. 

“That press conference was an embarrassment. George Gascon is completely tone-deaf to the impact his policies are having on victims and public safety,” said Desiree Andrade, co-chair of the Recall DA George Gascon campaign. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

In other developments:
– Texas gunman acquitted in Midland officer’s death after self-defense claim
– Jacqueline Avant’s alleged killer failed by legal system, Los Angeles DA George Gascon says
– Carjackings, vehicle thefts skyrocketing across the country
– Smash-and-grab robberies plague cities with liberal district attorneys
– Los Angeles robbery: Victims’ expensive jewelry is snatched outside luxury hotel, reports say
– Sheriffs group rebuts White House claim it is helping combat surge in retail thefts

Jussie Smollett’s fate rests with jury as trial draws to a close
The jury at Jussie Smollett’s trial on allegations he staged an elaborate hate crime against himself heard closing arguments Wednesday from both the actor’s defense team and from prosecutors before beginning their deliberations.

Neither side held back from making key points about Smollett’s alleged involvement in what prosecutors now believe was a hate-crime hoax orchestrated by the former “Empire” actor – and carried out by their star witnesses, brothers Abimbola and Olabingo Osundairo, who testified Smollett paid them $ 3,500 to participate in the alleged scheme in January 2019.

The lawyers’ closing arguments capped just over one week of testimony in the case. The jury deliberated for about two hours Wednesday but failed to reach a verdict. They were expected to resume deliberations Thursday as long as all 12 jurors arrive at court by 10:15 a.m. ET.

On Wednesday, the jurors asked the court, “Can we have a copy of the calendar of events?” There had been a display on a screen showing the month of January 2019 with specific dates marked off by prosecutors listing what happened on those days.

In his closing, special prosecutor Dan Webb said Smollett caused Chicago police to spend enormous resources investigating an alleged crime that they now believe is fake. Smollett, who is Black and gay, told police someone put a noose around his neck and yelled racist and homophobic slurs during the alleged attack near his downtown Chicago home.

Defense attorney Nenye Uche called the Osundairo brothers “sophisticated liars” who were out for money. CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

In other developments:
– Jussie Smollett: Key moments since actor reported Chicago attack
– Leo Terrell: The left is ‘embarrassed’ over Jussie Smollett trial, does not ‘care about the truth’
– Black Lives Matter stands in solidarity with Jussie Smollett: ‘We can never believe police’
– Jussie Smollett’s testimony was ‘unparalleled disaster,’ jury will see through ‘ruse’ and convict him: experts
– Jussie Smollett trial: Closing arguments set to begin after both sides rest their case

TODAY’S MUST-READS:
– Co-chair of Texas school board’s racial-equity panel quits after confrontation with parents
– Accuser drops ‘pregnancy‘ bombshell about Ghislaine Maxwell during trial
– Coast Guard attempts dramatic rescue near edge of Niagara Falls
– Liberal newspaper questions whether math is racist, the backlash was furious
– Car pulled from Alabama creek may solve 45-year mystery, but what was found inside raises questions
– Navy SEAL commander dies at 43 in accident, leaving wife and 5 kids behind

THE LATEST FROM FOX BUSINESS:
– Fidelity survey on US workers says 39% looking to change jobs in year ahead
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– Apple wins delay in monopoly case, allowing App Store rules to stay for now
– GameStop shares slip as video game retailer’s losses widen
– Jerry Garcia doc to be produced by family, directed by Justin Kreutzmann
– Beijing reins in China’s central bank

SOME PARTING WORDS

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sounded the alarm Wednesday night on what he claimed was the growing “control” China has over American corporations

“There’s evidence up here that’s pretty clear is how dependent our economy has become on China,” Rubio argued on “Special Report.” “When I say ‘our economy,’ it’s the things we buy at stores, but it’s also our corporations. I mean, we’ve got large, very influential, powerful organizations in our country and the business sector who rely on the access to the Chinese market and production in China for their bottom line. … It is for them too valuable now to jeopardize.”

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This edition of Fox News First was compiled by Fox News’ David Aaro. Thank you for making us your first choice in the morning! We’ll see you in your inbox first thing Friday.

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