Republican senators threaten to shut down government on vaccine mandates – .

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Republican senators threaten to shut down government on vaccine mandates – .


U.S. lawmakers rushed Thursday to avoid a government shutdown after Republicans threatened to torpedo a funding deal to protest the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

Several Republican senators, including Roger Marshall of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah, have threatened to suspend debate on a deal, risking a possible government shutdown as early as this weekend if their demands to block new federal Covid-19 rules for large companies are not satisfied.

The Biden administration has said that starting next year, companies with 100 or more workers will either have to force their employees to get vaccinated or have them tested once a week.

The House of Representatives on Thursday evening passed an interim measure in a 221-212 vote, largely depending on the parties, to continue funding the government until February 18.

The continuing resolution, as it’s called, would prevent a shutdown that would leave hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of work. But the measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate, which must also pass the bill and send it to President Joe Biden for signature by midnight Friday to avoid disruption.

After delivering a speech Thursday on new measures to combat the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, Biden told reporters he was convinced a shutdown could be avoided.

“We have everything in place to be able to ensure that there will be no closure,” said the president. ” I spoke with [Republican Senate minority leader] Mitch McConnell, I spoke with [Democratic Senate majority leader] Schumer, there’s a plan in place unless someone decides to be totally erratic, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.

The Biden administration’s vaccination mandate is said to affect around 80 million private sector workers. The White House has already ordered federal employees and contractors to get vaccinated against Covid.

Rosa DeLauro, the Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, and Richard Shelby, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Thursday they had reached an agreement on an interim measure that would delay a potential crisis of two more months. .

DeLauro said the deal did not include any major changes in existing spending except for an additional $ 7 billion in federal funds for refugees from Afghanistan.

The Democratic-controlled House passed the measure later today, sending it to the Senate, which is split 50-50, for further consideration.

A handful of Republican lawmakers could delay debate on whether to pursue the resolution by citing filibuster. Marshall, Lee and others have threatened to do so unless lawmakers agree to fund the Covid rules for big business.

Several Republican senators suggested Thursday that they would demand a separate, simple majority vote on vaccine mandates. But it also remains unclear whether the Democratic leadership in Congress would accept such a vote, given that West Virginia’s Joe Manchin, the Senate’s most conservative Democrat, has refused to pledge to support the mandates.

The Republicans’ objections come as the United States is increasingly concerned about the spread of the new variant of the Omicron coronavirus. Biden on Thursday announced a series of measures intended to slow the spread of the virus, including free rapid home tests for all Americans, an extended mask warrant on public transportation and stricter testing requirements for international travelers.

The last time the federal government closed was in late 2018 amid a standoff between lawmakers and Donald Trump over the former president’s desire to build a wall along the border with Mexico. . This standoff lasted 35 days, making it the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House, criticized Republicans, saying, “How do they explain to the public that they are shutting down government because they don’t want people to get vaccinated?

“We’re not going to go for their anti-vaxxing. OKAY? She told reporters, insisting Democrats would not give in to demands from opposition lawmakers. “So if you think this is how we’re going to keep government open, forget it. Forget that. “

Marsh Notes

Rana Foroohar and Edward Luce discuss every Monday and Friday the main themes at the intersection of money and power in American politics. Subscribe to the newsletter here

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