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GOP Senators Threaten to Shut Down Government Over Vaccine Mandates

GOP Senators Threaten to Shut Down Government Over Vaccine Mandates

Despite a bipartisan announcement on Thursday of an agreement to a plan that would keep the federal government funded, a handful of GOP senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules. The federal government now faces the threat of shutting down Friday at midnight because several Republican senators are objecting to President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates.

Due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday, but a group of Senate Republicans has repeatedly threatened throughout the week to delay passage of the continuing resolution over the Biden administration’s rule that requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or undergo regular testing and wear face masks in the workplace. And while some lawmakers are confident that they can ultimately prevent a prolonged shutdown, a brief shutdown over the weekend, or extending into next week, remains a possibility.

Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah was the latest member of the GOP conference to say Thursday afternoon that he’ll object to quick passage of the resolution. Republican Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas also stood by his opposition, saying he would object to an effort to quickly pass a stopgap bill to keep the government open unless he gets an amendment vote to defund the Biden vaccine mandate on businesses at a 51-vote threshold. “Shutting down the government is worth saving the jobs in Kansas,” he said.

Asked whether he thinks the Senate will swiftly take up the continuing resolution once it passes the House, averting a shutdown, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday morning, “I sure hope so. We’re not going to shut the government down,” the top Republican said in an interview on Fox News, adding “That makes no sense for anyone. Almost no one on either side thinks it’s a good idea.”

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed optimism over the deal, calling it “a good compromise that allows an appropriate amount of time for both parties in both chambers to finish negotiations on appropriations.” Schumer said he hopes the House will pass the stopgap measure by the end of Thursday. But referencing how some Republicans could refuse to consent to a quick vote, Schumer said, “unfortunately it seems Republican dysfunction could be a roadblock to averting an unnecessary and dangerous government shutdown.”

He added, “Let’s be clear: if there is a shutdown, it will be a Republican anti-vaccine shutdown.”

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