Manchin won't rule out backing GOP effort to defund Biden vaccine mandate

Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBiden to meet with CEOs to discuss Build Back Better agenda Hoyer says 'significant' version of Build Back Better will pass this year Gallego went to New York to meet Sinema donors amid talk of primary challenge: report MORE (D-W.Va.) declined to say Thursday how he would vote on a GOP effort to defund President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money — Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixed Warner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 case MORE’s vaccine requirement for larger businesses as part of the debate over a short-term bill to fund the government.

Manchin, asked if he would vote for an amendment to block funding for the mandate, sidestepped the question by saying that he was still “working” through it.

“I’ve been very supportive of a mandate for federal government, for military ... I’ve been less enthused about it in the private sector,” Manchin said.

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A small group of conservative senators are pushing for a vote on their proposal to block funding for the mandate as part of the Senate’s consideration of a short-term deal to fund the government into mid-February. Democratic leadership hasn’t publicly opened the door to an amendment vote.

The Senate took a similar vote in September as part of its debate on the first short-term funding bill. Manchin voted with all Democrats against the amendment at the time.

But the threshold for the amendment to get added into the funding bill at the time was three-fifths, meaning even if Manchin or another Democrat had voted "yes," their “no” vote wasn’t critical for Democrats.

But the GOP senators pushing for the vote say that in order for them to consider helping speed up the short-term government funding bill this week, their amendment vote has to be at a simple majority threshold.

That means if Manchin and every Republican voted for the amendment to defund the vaccine mandate, it would be inserted into the short-term government funding bill.

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Sen. Roger MarshallRoger W. MarshallSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down The Hill's Morning Report: Biden takes it on the chin GOP senator plans to introduce FAUCI Act after clash at hearing MORE (R-Kan.) said an amendment vote, which he stressed would have to be at a simple majority, in exchange for speeding up the government funding bill was “on the table right now.”

“Sen. Lee, Sen. Cruz and myself will be talking with leadership and seeing what that amendment opportunity looks like,” he said, referring to Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeePut partisan politics aside — The Child Tax Credit must be renewed immediately These Senate seats are up for election in 2022 Senate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products MORE (R-Utah) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow Cruz Supreme Court case could lead to unlimited anonymous election spending Poll: Trump leads 2024 Republican field with DeSantis in distant second The politics of 'mind control' MORE (R-Texas).

Congress has until the end of Friday to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Because of Senate rules, and the time crunch, any one senator can drag the process out past the deadline.