A growing number of Republican senators are saying they won’t vote to partially fund the government over the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
The federal government faces a partial government shutdown by midnight on Dec. 3, although congressional leaders announced they have a plan that would extend funding into February 2022.
“The only thing I want to shut down is enforcement of an immoral, unconstitutional vaccine mandate,” Lee said on the Senate floor.
Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) echoed Lee’s sentiment, saying he would block an attempt to quickly vote in favor of a stopgap bill until he gets in an amendment to defund President Joe Biden’s controversial federal vaccine mandate for private businesses with 100 or more employees.
“Shutting down the government is worth saving the jobs in Kansas,” Marshall, a doctor, told reporters on Dec. 2.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), signaled earlier this week that he was open to shutting the government down over the Biden administration’s vaccine rules.
“I think we should use the leverage we have to fight against what are illegal, unconstitutional, and abusive mandates,” he told reporters. “I have long said that I am not particularly invested in the timing of a given vote—whether it occurs a few hours earlier or a few hours later.”
Notably, in 2013, when Cruz was a freshman senator, he shut the government down for 16 days as Congress held discussions on whether to pass the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Due to the Senate’s rules, all 100 senators would have to agree in order to quickly pass the stopgap measure before Dec. 3.
“The vaccine mandate is going to shut down our businesses in this country, which is going to further disrupt” the U.S. economy, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) told Fox Business on Dec. 1.
Daines said he believes it’s preferable to shut down the government “for a couple of days” rather than “shutting down businesses” if the mandate is enforced.
Some Republican senators, however, have said that they don’t believe shutting down the government for any reason is a good idea.
“I’m concerned about the mandate, but I’m not going to shut down the government. And I do think some of my colleagues have concerns, and I share them. We need to keep the government open,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters this week. “I trust my colleagues to vote their heart. I just hope they take their brains with them.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that they have a deal in place to keep the government funded, while Biden told reporters on Dec. 2 that he doesn’t believe there will be a shutdown.
“Look, I don’t believe that will happen. We have everything in place to be able to make sure there is not a shutdown,” Biden said at the White House, adding that there’s a “plan in place, unless somebody decides to be totally erratic, and I don’t think that will happen.”
The president said he spoke with both Schumer and McConnell on Dec. 2 about keeping the government funded. Hours before that, the White House issued a statement calling for the “swift passage” of the stopgap bill.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) announced that the latest plan, which funds the federal government until Feb. 18, would go to a vote as soon as Dec. 2.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said negotiators had reached a deal.
“I’m pleased that we have finally reached an agreement on the continuing resolution,” Shelby said in a statement.
Last month, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a rule known as an emergency temporary standard that would mandate private businesses with 100 or more workers to either mandate vaccines or weekly testing and mask-wearing. Two days later, a federal appeals court issued an injunction against the rule before reaffirming its decision in mid-November.
The mandate, as well as mandates for federal contractors and workers, has triggered an avalanche of lawsuits from GOP-led states, private businesses, and individuals.