Republicans threaten U.S. government shutdown to force debate on COVID-19 vaccine mandates

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The US government could be headed for a temporary shutdown, with Republicans ready to block an urgent funding bill in their attempt to force debate in Congress over rolling back the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for some activists.

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Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate who are opposed to Joe Biden’s vaccine rules want Congress to take a tougher stance against mandatory shots, even if it means closing federal offices over the weekend. But not all Republicans are on board. A back-to-back GOP senator left a private lunch meeting Wednesday and expressed concern that even a short pause of the federal government would not play well with the public to blame.

Friday is a government funding deadline and Republican objections — especially in the Senate, where any senator can take action to block the vote — could delay the passage of legislation needed to keep federal operations running.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the chamber to say that Democrats are ready to support the funding bill and urged Republicans not to engage in shutdown politics.

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“Our Republican allies, meanwhile, can work with us to move the process through the chamber quickly, or they can engage in blockade tactics that will almost certainly shut down the government,” Schumer said. D.N.Y.

The political backlash to the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine mandate has been building for months. The White House sees vaccination as the fastest way to end the pandemic, which has claimed more than 780,000 deaths in the US on Wednesday, with the first case of a disturbing new type detected in the country. During the previous government’s shutdown war in September, Republicans even tried to block vaccine mandates.

As political arguments escalate over meeting vaccine requirements on certain groups of workers, so do legal challenges. Courts are rolling back the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate – including a decision this week that blocks a requirement for some health care workers from being enforced.

For some Republicans, the court cases, along with their concerns about a potentially disruptive government shutdown, are driving them away from engaging in a high-stakes shutdown.

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“One of the things I’m a little worried about is this: Why would we make ourselves the subject of public attention by creating the specter of a government shutdown?” John Cornyn, R-Texas, a party leader, said.

On Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, made the case during a private lunch meeting at the Capitol to his aides for linking the effort to link the vaccine mandate to the spending bill.

Senators said the idea is to have the Senate vote to siphon funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enforce the Biden administration’s requirement that private employers with 100 or more workers ensure they are vaccinated or routinely vaccinated. has been tested, the senators said.

Lee appears to have the support of some senators and hardline Republicans in the House. “This is a chance to right a wrong,” said Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kahn, who launched a similar effort against vaccine mandates during a previous government funding battle.

But among most other Republican senators, enthusiasm for the shutdown was low.

John Kennedy, R-La., said as he exited the lunch session, “I just hate to see a shutdown — shut down the government — because people have gone through too much.”

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Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters that with the new coronavirus version: “There’s a lot of chaos in our country right now, too much worry about O’Micron. The last thing we need is more confusion and fear.” “

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has opposed the shutdown strategy, according to a Republican allowed anonymity to discuss private conversations. He didn’t say a word during the private lunch, but publicly McConnell is excited that there will be no shutdown of the federal government.

“We’re going to be fine,” McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters in the halls of the Capitol.

The Biden administration has pursued vaccine requirements on several groups of activists that want to get more shots in the arms to crush the virus, but the effort is facing one setback after another in legal matters.

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This week, a federal judge blocked the administration from imposing a coronavirus vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in 10 states. Earlier, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked OSHA’s requirement that employers with 100 or more workers ensure that they are fully vaccinated.

The administration has previously implemented policies that require millions of federal employees and federal contractors, including military servicemen, to be fully vaccinated. Those efforts are also being challenged in federal courts.

Associated Press polling shows Americans are divided on Biden’s effort to vaccinate workers, with Democrats heavily for it while most Republicans are against it.

Some Republican Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. to vote to reject the administration’s mandate in next week’s Congressional Review Action, which is separate from the fight for federal funding.

From the White House, Press Secretary Jen Psaki was confident the government funding bill would be approved by Congress and that regular federal operations would not cease later this week.

“We are confident that they will move forward and stop the government from being shut down,” Saki said.

She was highly critical of Republicans seeking to prevent the mandate from taking effect.

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