A group of Republicans are plotting a government shutdown to derail Biden's vaccine mandate, report says
- A group of GOP senators are said to be considering hardball tactics to derail Biden's vaccine mandate.
- They plan to block a government funding bill to strip the mandate of funding, Politico reported.
- Congress has until midnight on Friday to pass a new funding bill.
A group of Republican lawmakers are plotting to force a government shutdown on Friday to strip the Biden administration's vaccine mandate of funding, Politico's Playbook newsletter reported Wednesday.
A stopgap measure — or Continuing Resolution (CR) — to fund the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday, and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have been in discussions over a new deal that would extend funding into the new year.
But GOP sources told Politico that a group of Republican senators were planning on delaying a funding deal. The move would be a bid to force Democrats to strip funding from President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate, which require federal employees and businesses with 100 or more employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.
It's a last-minute hurdle for the CR bill, with federal employee layoffs and the closure of some federal government services at risk if a CR bill does not pass before the deadline.
"I'm sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the CR, but I can't facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates," Sen. Mike Lee of Utah told Playbook.
Lee referenced legal challenges to the mandates that are being heard in federal courts in several states.
"Given that federal courts across the country have raised serious issues with these mandates, it's not unreasonable for my Democratic colleagues to delay enforcement of the mandates for at least the length of the continuing resolution," Lee told the outlet.
Under Senate rules, the objections of just one senator could delay the CR vote, meaning it can be delayed past midnight on Friday, when government funding expires.
According to Politico, it is unclear how many senators would support a measure blocking the government funding bill, but it could be as many as 15. However, McConnell believes that the blowback of blocking the CR bill could damage Republicans, Playbook reported.
The Democratic-controlled House is expected to vote and pass on a CR bill on Wednesday. The bill would then be passed to the Senate for approval before Friday's deadline.
The incredibly tight window to get a funding bill passed gives the dissident senators leverage, but McConnell has so far sounded optimistic over the prospect of a new CR deal being brokered.
"I think we'll get there and certainly nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown," he told reporters Tuesday, CNN reported.
Biden's vaccine mandate has become a target of attacks by Republicans, who claim that it is an infringement of constitutionally guaranteed liberties. Employers face large fines if they don't comply with the policy.