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Here’s Why Republicans Might Shut Down the Government on Friday

Republicans are planning to shut down the government over the Biden administration’s private sector vaccine mandate, according to Wednesday’s edition of Politico Playbook.

SO WHAT

The cultural issues-focused wing of the GOP is flexing its political muscle.

WHAT HAPPENED

Seizing on a fast-approaching deadline to fund the government, some Senate Republicans are planning to object to a stopgap measure to extend funding for a few months unless Democrats cave on withholding funding for money to enforce the mandate, Politico reported.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told Politico he wouldn’t help resolve the continuing resolution hangup “without addressing the vaccine mandates.”

  • “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,” he said.
  • Only one GOP senator needs to object in order to drag the process past midnight Friday when funding officially expires.
  • In early November, 15 senate Republicans signed a letter pledging to object to all legislation that funds the vaccine mandate.

Conservatives in the House of Representatives are backing the strategy.

  • The House Freedom Caucus voted Tuesday to pressure House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to demand that Democrats strip vaccine mandate funding, sources familiar with the meeting told Politico.
  • “There is leverage immediately in the Senate, and we think that House Republicans ought to be backing up any number of Senate Republicans … to use all procedural tools to deny the continuing resolution passage Friday night — unless they restrict use of those funds for vaccine mandates,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, told Politico.

At an Ohio GOP Senate Forum on Monday, Senate candidate J.D. Vance urged Republicans to “shut down the government until the vaccine mandate ends.”

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

A Senate Democratic leadership staffer told Politico that if the GOP succeeds, the “Senate would need at least five days to process the continuing resolution,” meaning a shutdown would end Sunday at the earliest.

  • “To avoid a needless shutdown, Republicans will have to cooperate and approve the government funding legislation without delay,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Tuesday. “If Republicans choose obstruction, there will be a shutdown entirely because of their own dysfunction.”
  • Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday “nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown.”

WHERE THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION STANDS ON ITS VACCINE MANDATE

The White House announced Monday federal workers would not be punished for noncompliance with the vaccine mandate until next year.

  • Earlier this month, the Biden administration suspended enforcement of the vaccine mandate and testing requirements for private businesses, following an order by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

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