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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Republicans Threaten Authorities Shutdown Over Vaccine Mandates

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WASHINGTON — A gaggle of Senate Republicans is threatening to delay motion on a spending invoice wanted to avert a lapse in federal funding on Friday except it additionally bans enforcement of the Biden administration’s vaccine-and-testing mandate for giant employers, heightening the specter of a authorities shutdown.

With Congress lagging behind on finalizing the dozen annual spending payments wanted to maintain the federal government working, there’s broad acknowledgment that lawmakers might want to cross a stopgap measure this week to stave off a shutdown.

However simply two days earlier than funding is about to lapse, Democrats and Republicans stay at odds over how lengthy the short-term measure ought to stretch into 2022 and different particulars. Congressional leaders in each events have downplayed the probabilities of a shutdown, however they conceded that the funding deadline has elevated the leverage of senators urgent their very own particular person agendas.

“If each member of this chamber used the specter of a shutdown to safe concessions on their very own pursuits, that might result in chaos for the tens of millions and tens of millions of People who depend on a functioning authorities,” stated Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the bulk chief.

“It’s as much as the leaders to ensure there’s not a shutdown — I’m ensuring, and I feel Chief McConnell desires to attempt to ensure, too,” he added, referring to Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority chief.

On Tuesday, Mr. McConnell flatly stated, “We received’t shut down.”

Nonetheless, the vaccine mandate-related objections have raised the prospect of no less than a brief lapse in funding, presenting the primary hiccup for Senate Democrats in a chaotic month, as they juggle efforts to fund the federal government, elevate the debt ceiling, full a hulking navy coverage invoice and enact their marquee $2.2 trillion home coverage laws — all earlier than Christmas Day.

“We is not going to assist — and can use all means at our disposal to oppose — laws that funds or in any approach permits the enforcement of President Biden’s employer vaccine mandate,” a dozen Republican senators, led by Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas, wrote final month in a letter to Mr. Schumer. It was unclear on Wednesday how lots of the signees would maintain agency in blocking the unfinished laws.

The Home Freedom Caucus, the precise flank of the Home Republican convention, wrote their very own letter on Wednesday asking Mr. McConnell to make use of “all procedural instruments at his disposal to disclaim well timed passage” of the laws.

The Home may vote as early as Wednesday on a short-term spending invoice that retains the federal government open by no less than late January, however aides warned it could possibly be delayed as lawmakers spent the morning haggling over the tip date.

“There is no such thing as a curiosity in shutting the federal government down,” stated Consultant Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and the chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, on Wednesday. “We’ll get to an endpoint.”

As a result of the stopgap invoice maintains present funding, successfully freezing in place spending ranges negotiated with the Trump administration and a Republican-controlled Senate in 2020, Democrats are urgent to make it as short-lived as doable. However Republicans have pushed to increase the measure longer.

“I’d like February, March would swimsuit me — April, Might,” stated Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the highest Republican on the Appropriations Committee. “I feel it offers us extra time to noticeably sit down.”

Lawmakers had been additionally debating extra spending provisions, together with extra funding for Afghan refugees and a provision averting billions of {dollars} in cuts to Medicare, subsidies and different applications. However even when an settlement is reached, the Senate would require unanimous assist to waive a lot of procedural steps and swiftly take up the laws earlier than the Friday deadline.

With out unanimous settlement, the method may drag by the weekend, forcing a short shutdown. Senate Republicans, with the sturdy backing of Home Republicans, have threatened to lengthen the controversy except the invoice prohibits funding for a mandate that each one massive employers require their employees be vaccinated towards the coronavirus or undergo weekly testing.

“I’ve lengthy stated that I’m not notably invested within the timing of a given vote — whether or not it happens just a few hours earlier or just a few hours later,” Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, informed reporters. “However I feel we should always use the leverage we now have to battle towards what are unlawful, unconstitutional and abusive mandates.”

Mr. Marshall beforehand supplied an modification in September to an earlier stopgap invoice that might have barred funds from going towards the implementation and enforcement of the mandate, however it failed within the evenly divided Senate.

The mandate, which the Biden administration had stated would go into impact in January, has change into ensnared in courtroom challenges. Final month, a federal appeals courtroom saved a block on it in place and declared that the Occupational Security and Well being Administration had overreached its authority in issuing it.

Some Republicans appeared cautious of forcing a shutdown, nonetheless short-term, over the problem.

“A shutdown is only a ineffective pathway,” stated Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia.

Democrats criticized Republicans on Wednesday for threatening to shutter the federal government over a coverage that’s geared toward stemming the unfold of the pandemic.

“The truth that they need to stroll proper as much as a authorities shutdown over a public well being situation ought to frighten the American public,” stated Consultant Pete Aguilar, Democrat of California. “That’s precisely what they’re advocating right here.”

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