Republicans in Senate Threaten Another Government Shutdown Over Vaccine Mandate

Bryan Dijkhuizen

Despite an announcement from congressional leaders on Thursday of an agreement to extend funding into February, the federal government faces the threat of shutting down on Friday at midnight because Republican senators object to President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate, according to the Washington Post.

In an announcement on Thursday, key negotiators from both parties said they had reached an agreement that would keep the federal government funded.

However, due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree for the plan to pass before Friday quickly.

A handful of Republican senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over vaccine regulations.

The current proposal, presented by House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, would extend until February 18, and the House is anticipated to vote as soon as Thursday.

While legislators are hopeful that they will avoid a protracted shutdown, in the end, a temporary shutdown over the weekend or continuing into next week remains a possibility in the short term.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the top Republican on the panel, also announced that negotiators had reached an agreement.

However, it was unclear as of Thursday morning whether the agreement meant that all 50 members of the Republican conference supported expedited passage.

Asked whether he thinks the Senate will swiftly take up the continuing resolution once it passes the House, averting a shutdown, Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday morning, "I sure hope so."

However, a group of Senate Republicans has threatened to delay passage of the continuing resolution throughout the week because of a rule issued by the Biden administration.

That rule requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or to conduct regular testing and wear face masks in the workplace if they are not.

The 51-vote difference is significant because it brings the amendment within striking distance of being passed outright.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a moderate Democrat, has said he would not support such an amendment, noting that he supports requirements on government workers but is not enthusiastic about mandates on the private sector.

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