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House To Vote On Avoiding Government Shutdown, GOP Senators Could Cause Delay Over Vaccine Mandates
US-POLITICS-CONGRESS The US Capitol building in Washington, DC, on December 2, 2021. - US lawmakers scrambled Thursday to avert a weekend government shutdown as Republicans stalled a bill to fund federal agencies in a bid to derail President Joe Biden's Covid-19 vaccine mandate. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images) JIM WATSON / Contributor
Jim WATSON / AFP / JIM WATSON / Contributor via Getty Images

The House of Representatives is set to vote on a measure Thursday that would prevent a government shutdown before Friday’s deadline, but some Republicans could still stand in the way of getting it through the Senate due to concerns over Biden’s vaccine mandates.

As reported by Reuters: 

The Democratic-controlled House voted to begin debate on the bill, which would extend funding through Feb. 18, and vote on passage to give the Senate time to do the same before a midnight Friday deadline.

“This is a good compromise that allows an appropriate amount of time for both parties in both chambers to finish negotiations on appropriations,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reportedly remarked on Thursday morning.

While the House might vote to pass the measure on Thursday, the Senate could reportedly still create some obstacles. 

Some Republicans are against a deal if it does not include a way to push back against the Biden Administration’s overreaching vaccination mandates.

As The Daily Wire reported on Wednesday, “Congressional Republicans are planning to use an array of legislative tools, including the threat of a government shutdown, to challenge the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates, according to a report from Politico.” 

“Because the Senate is running on an incredibly small clock — funding officially expires Friday — and because Senate rules require unanimous consent to move the bill forward at an expedited pace, conservative senators believe they can drag out debate past the expiration of funding,” The Daily Wire reported on Wednesday.

“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,” Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) said in a statement to Politico. “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 “said on the Senate floor that if he and other Republican senators got a vote on whether to include funding for vaccine mandates in the upcoming government appropriations bill, they might not delay the government funding bill,” Reuters noted.

“All I’m asking for is a vote. It would take 15 minutes, we could do it right now,” Lee noted, adding that he and more Republican senators in favor of the move desire a simple majority on the amendment.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) made similar comments to CNBC on Thursday morning. “All we want is a vote,” he said, adding he wants senators to have to “put their cards on the table” on whether they support the mandate.

Schumer criticized Republican senators for possibly creating an “unnecessary and dangerous” shutdown. He said, “I hope cooler heads will prevail on the other side so we can keep the government funded before tomorrow’s deadline.”

On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he doesn’t believe “shutting down the government over this issue is going to get an outcome,” noting the vaccine mandate has been challenged and come up against obstacles in federal courts.

“We’re not going to shut the government down,” said McConnell. “That makes no sense for anyone. Almost no one on either side thinks that’s a good idea.” 

On Thursday, President Joe Biden told the press he spoke with Schumer and McConnell about avoiding a shutdown. He said “there is a plan in place unless somebody decides to be totally erratic, and I don’t think that will happen.”

The Republican momentum could at least potentially cause passage of the legislation to be held up, which could create a short-term shutdown.

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