GOP risks government shutdown to fight Biden vaccine mandate


WASHINGTON (AP) – The federal government could be heading towards a temporary shutdown as Republicans set to block a must-see fundraising bill in their efforts to force a debate in Congress on canceling COVID vaccine mandates- 19 of the Biden administration for some workers.

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate who oppose Biden’s vaccine rules want Congress to take a strong stand against mandatory shots, even if that means shutting down federal offices over the weekend. But not all Republicans are on board. One GOP senator after another left a private luncheon on Wednesday expressing fears that they would be blamed for even a brief shutdown by the federal government that will not play well with the public.

Friday is a government funding deadline, and objections from Republicans – particularly in the Senate, where any senator can delay the process to block a vote – could delay passage of legislation necessary to maintain federal operations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the chamber by declaring Democrats ready to support the fundraising bill and urging Republicans not to engage in a policy of shutdown.

“Our fellow Republican, meanwhile, can either work with us to move the process forward quickly through the chamber or engage in obstructionist tactics that will make government shutdown almost certain,” said Schumer, DN. .Y.

The political backlash against the Biden administration’s coronavirus vaccine warrants has been building up for months. The White House sees vaccinations as the fastest way to end the pandemic that has claimed more than 780,000 deaths in the United States on Wednesday sparked new fears, with the first case detected in the country of a new variant disturbing. In the last government shutdown battle in September, Republicans also attempted to suspend the vaccines mandate.

As political arguments intensify about imposing vaccine requirements on certain groups of workers, so do the legal challenges. Courts have overturned the Biden administration’s vaccination warrants – including a ruling this week blocking the application of a requirement for some health workers.

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

“One of the things that concerns me a little is: Why would we be the object of public attention by creating the specter of a government shutdown? Said Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, a leader of the party.

On Wednesday, a Republican, Senator Mike Lee of Utah, pleaded with his colleagues to tie the effort to end vaccination mandates to the spending bill during a private luncheon on Capitol Hill.

The idea is to have the Senate vote to withdraw funding from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to implement the Biden administration’s requirement that private employers with 100 or more workers be ensure they are vaccinated or tested regularly, senators said.

Lee appears to have the support of a few die-hard Senators and Republicans in the House. “This is a chance to correct a mistake,” said Senator Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Who launched a similar effort against vaccination warrants in the latest government funding battle.

But among most other Republican senators, enthusiasm for a shutdown has faded.

“I just hate to see a shutdown – shutting down government – because people have been through a lot,” said Senator John Kennedy, R-La., Exiting the lunch session.

Senator Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told reporters that with the new variant of the coronavirus: “There is too much chaos in our country right now, too much worry about omicron. The last thing we need is more confusion and fear.

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposed the shutdown strategy, according to a Republican who was granted anonymity to discuss private conversations. He didn’t say a word at the private lunch, but McConnell has been publicly optimistic that there will be no federal government shutdown.

“Everything will be fine,” McConnell, R-Ky., Told reporters in the halls of the Capitol.

The Biden administration has requested vaccines from several groups of workers and is seeking more shots to crush the virus, but the effort faces one setback after another in legal affairs.

This week, a federal judge blocked the administration from applying a coronavirus vaccine warrant to thousands of healthcare workers in 10 states. Previously, a federal appeals court temporarily suspended OSHA’s requirement that employers with 100 or more workers ensure they are fully immunized.

The administration has already implemented policies requiring millions of federal employees and federal contractors, including military troops, to be fully immunized. These efforts are also being challenged in federal courts.

An Associated Press poll shows Americans are divided over Biden’s efforts to vaccinate workers, with Democrats overwhelmingly in favor while most Republicans are opposed.

Some Republicans prefer an effort by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., To simply vote to reject administration mandates in congressional review action expected next week, 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 routine federal operations would not be closed this weekend.

“We are confident that they will move forward and prevent the government from shutting down,” Psaki said.

She sharply criticized Republicans who sought to prevent the entry into force of the mandates.

“These supporters of the former president are arguing for the shutdown of the federal government, so that 20% of the public who refuse to be vaccinated or tested can be free to infect their colleagues, our children, filling hospitals,” Psaki said. . “They want to shut down the government in order to advocate for people to assert it in society.”


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