A group of Republican senators is threatening to withhold support for funding the government by a Friday shutdown deadline unless they get a vote on defunding remaining federal vaccine mandates — renewing a stand they took ahead of the last deadline in December.
In an open “Dear Colleague” letter on Monday, Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Mike Braun of Indiana, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Ted Cruz of Texas stated their intention to oppose a stopgap government funding measure unless their demands are met.
“We will continue to stand against these mandates until they are discontinued in ambition, design, and practice,” the senators wrote. “For that reason, we are writing to let you know that we will not consent to a time agreement that eases passage of the Continuing Resolution (‘CR’) now before the Senate absent an agreement to allow for a roll call vote on an amendment that defunds the enforcement of these vaccine mandates for the spending period covered by the CR.”
The House last week passed a continuing resolution to fund the government at current levels through March 11, and the Senate must pass it before the end of the day on Friday to avoid a government shutdown. Republican and Democratic budget negotiators hope to reach an agreement on a Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus spending bill before the new March 11 deadline, setting the first new spending levels under the Biden administration.
Some Republicans previously mounted a pressure campaign about vaccine mandates before the last stopgap funding measure was passed in December. That resulted in a vote on an amendment from Lee and Marshall to defund vaccine mandates, which failed 48-50, and 19 Senate Republicans voted for the stopgap funding measure.