Of all of the hot button issues that face our nation today, perhaps none is quite as emphatically argued as the federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
President Biden’s requirement has been controversial from the start, targeting not only all federal workers but also employees of any company that has more than 100 people on payroll. Among the chief critics of the mandate are conservative Republicans, who are now reportedly eyeing a brazen negotiation tactic: Shutting down the entire government.
Funding for much of the federal government runs out at midnight on Friday — and conservative Senate Republicans, backed by their counterparts in the House, are “privately plotting to force a government shutdown” as part of “an effort to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on the private sector,” Politico’s Playbook reports, citing multiple GOP sources. Democrats are scrambling to get agreement from enough Republicans to fund the government at roughly current levels through early 2022.Advertisement - story continues below
“Because of the tight schedule — and Senate rules that require unanimous consent to move quickly — the senators believe they’ll be able to drag out the process well past midnight Friday,” Politico reports. If they succeed, “the government will likely shut down for several days — even if appropriators strike a bipartisan agreement to extend funding by the end of today.”
Not everyone was on board, however.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that “we won’t shut down” and “nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown,” but it would only take one Republican, theoretically, to slow things up enough to trigger a shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) certainly didn’t appear convinced — he argued Tuesday that “if Republicans choose obstruction, there will be a shutdown entirely because of their own dysfunction.”
Government shutdowns have recently become bargaining chips in our ever-bitter partisan rivalries, and this week is proving to be no different.