Risk of a government shutdown beginning this weekend is rising as conservative Republicans are reportedly plotting to force a partial closure in an effort to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on the private sector.
Without a stopgap budget, the government would partially shut down after midnight Friday — potentially resulting in furloughs for hundreds of thousands of federal workers, delayed tax refunds and economic data, and shuttered national parks and monuments.
Politico reported early Wednesday that a group of Senate GOP conservatives is planning to object to quick consideration of a continuing resolution, or CR, to extend funding into early next year unless Democratic leaders agree to deny money to enforce the mandate. The House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservatives, wrote Wednesday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, urging him to “deny timely passage” of a stopgap until it blocks vaccine-mandate funding.
Because of the tight schedule, and Senate rules that require unanimous consent to move quickly, senators believe they’ll be able to drag out the process well past midnight Friday, Politico wrote. Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah told the publication, “I’m sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the CR, but I can’t facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates.”
McConnell predicted Tuesday there would not be a shutdown. The House of Representatives had been expected to vote as early as Wednesday on a stopgap budget, but a top Democrat reportedly said a vote won’t happen today amid a disagreement with McConnell over a funding date.
The latest COVID-related political brawl came as Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s top medical adviser, said the U.S. has its first confirmed case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Stocks took a dramatic turn lower after Fauci spoke. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
was recently up about 42 points, recovering some lost ground.