Senate conservatives threaten to hold up government funding over vaccine mandate

A group of 10 Senate conservatives led by Republican Steering Committee Chairman Mike Lee (R-Utah) are threatening to hold up a government-funding measure and possibly trigger a federal shutdown unless they can vote on an amendment to defund President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  

Lee and nine other Senate Republicans circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter Friday afternoon threatening to object to procedural requests to speed up passage of a funding bill before the March 11 deadline unless leaders allow them to vote on an amendment to defund the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates for medical workers, military personnel, federal employees and federal contractors.  

“We are writing to let you know that we will once again not consent to a time agreement that eases passage of a CR or Omnibus that funds these mandates,” they wrote. “At the very least, we will require a roll call vote on an amendment that defunds the enforcement of these vaccine mandates for the spending period covered by the government funding measure.” 

The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), Rick Scott (Fla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Roger Marshall (Kan.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Rand Paul (Ky.).  

The senators noted that while the Biden administration recently rescinded an Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers following an adverse decision by the Supreme Court, the mandates for medical workers, military personnel and federal employees and contractors remain in place.  

“These COVID-19 vaccine mandates amount to a serious abuse of both federal power and executive authority. They also further strain the economic and social pressures our society currently faces, while completely ignoring existing evidence-based data on natural immunity from previous COVID19 infection,” the senators wrote.  

Also on Friday afternoon, a group of nearly 40 House Republicans sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announcing they will oppose “any federal government funding measure that funds the enforcement of COVID-19 vaccine mandates.” 

“So far, Congress has not leveraged the full “power of the purse” to end the COVID-19 vaccine mandates that continue to harm tens of thousands of Americans – most notably our medical workers, military personnel, and federal workers such as Border Patrol,” they wrote.   

They wrote that it is troubling to force troops to get COVID-19 vaccination shots at a time of potential military conflict in Eastern Europe. 

“It is particularly troubling for the President to ask thousands of those troops to amass in Eastern Europe while simultaneously finger-wagging at them to get a politicized vaccine or be fired,” they wrote.  

Tags Appropriations Coronavirus COVID-19 Cynthia Lummis James Lankford Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mike Braun Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Roger Marshall Ron Johnson Shutdown Steve Daines Ted Cruz vaccine mandates
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