Freedom Caucus urges McConnell to block government funding over vaccine mandates

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) addresses reporters after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, November 30, 2021.
Greg Nash

The House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday called on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to use all of the tools at his disposal to deny “timely passage” for government funding legislation in the upper chamber over the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates.

With current funding for the government set to expire on Friday, the group of Republicans is putting pressure on party colleagues in the upper chamber to employ what they described in a letter to McConnell as “important leverage” against mandates they say are “unlawful.”

Republicans in the House Freedom Caucus say they want McConnell to use “all procedural tools” in his arsenal “to deny timely passage of [a continuing resolution] unless it prohibits funding — in all respects — for the vaccine mandates and enforcement thereof.”

The letter comes as lawmakers in both chambers are working to strike a deal to prevent a shutdown on Friday with a continuing resolution (CR), which will temporarily fund the government at the previous year’s fiscal levels until a larger bipartisan agreement can be reached on spending levels for the new year.

House Democrats say they have considered introducing legislation to kickstart the process on Wednesday. But some have said the process has been held up, pending an agreement on timing in the Senate, where Democrats would need to fetch 10 votes from Republicans in the upper chamber to pass the bill.

The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office and the White House for comment. 

The move by the House Freedom Caucus marks one of the latest attacks by Republicans on President Biden’s vaccine mandates. It also arrives as the administration continues its push for COVID-19 vaccine requirements for businesses, health care workers and employees of federal contractors.

The caucus’ push has picked up some traction among Republican senators who oppose the mandates. But the effort’s chances of success come Friday remain unclear. 

Asked about the likelihood of a shutdown later this week, McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill: “I think we’re gonna be okay.”

Updated 2:13 p.m.

Tags federal vaccine mandates government funding House Freedom Caucus Joe Biden Mitch McConnell Shutdown
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