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Republican arrest squad digs ahead of government funding deadline

WASHINGTON A small group of far-right Republicans are confident in its government shutdown strategy to protest new COVID-19 rules for private sector workers.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), The leader of the Senate faction who said he would refuse to allow a quick vote on a government finance bill, said he had only received positive comments on his position.

“My phone has exploded and continues to explode with the vaccine warrant issue, but no Kansan has contacted me to say, ‘Don’t shut down the government,'” Marshall told reporters Thursday.

Marshall and more than a dozen other Senate Republicans pledged last month to oppose any government funding bill that does not “fund” the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s directive asking businesses of more than 100 employees to require vaccination or weekly tests for their workers. The new rule was due to go into effect in January, but has been suspended pending legal challenges.

Marshall claimed that so many workers would refuse to be vaccinated, and therefore lose their jobs, that the rule would hurt the economy. He said the weekly test alternative for workers who refuse injections would be “nearly impossible” for employers to manage.

“This is an economic shutdown,” he said. “This is not just a government shutdown. I don’t want to shut down the government.

The Senate needs unanimous consent to quickly pass a government-funded bill before Friday’s deadline. Any senator can oppose it, however, giving Marshall and others who agree with him influence the process.

“It smacks of righteousness when courts have already suspended it and when the Biden administration fails to enforce a vaccine warrant on federal employees.”

– Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah)

There is a potential way out of the conflict. Marshall and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said they would be prepared to allow swift passage of a government-funding bill if Democrats agreed to a simple majority vote on an amendment to fund government. mandate of vaccines on companies, which would theoretically have a better chance of passing. But votes on legislative amendments are typically set at a threshold of 60, and it’s unclear whether Democrats will agree with the idea.

Other Republicans disagree with the shutdown strategy, calling it a futile attempt to deal with an issue that may already be moot, as a pair of federal judges rulings earlier this week have already blocked entry immediate effect of the Biden administration mandates for the two federal contractors. and health workers. The Biden administration has also said it will not punish federal workers who refuse to comply with the mandate until next year.

“It smacks of righteousness when the courts have already suspended this and the Biden administration does not enforce a vaccine warrant on federal employees,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) told HuffPost, referring at closing. strategy. “It does nothing other than scare some people who rely on government checks.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the senator who single-handedly shut down the government in 2013 in a desperate attempt to fund Obamacare, said court cases made the shutdown all the more important as it showed that warrants were illegal.

Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) Speaks with reporters on his way to a vote at the United States Capitol on December 2 in Washington, DC With a deadline of midnight Friday, Congressional leaders are working to ” adopt a continuing resolution to fund the government and avoid a government shutdown.

Drew Angerer via Getty Images

“They are clearly without faith or law. Joe Biden knows they are lawless, ”said Cruz. “And Democrats don’t care. They don’t care about medical confidentiality. They don’t care about individual autonomy. Instead, we’ve seen during this pandemic that Democrats are very comfortable being petty bullies. “

If the government were to partially shut down after Friday, the funding lapse would likely be short, as the Senate can overcome an obstruction with closure motions that only take a few days.

While Senate Republicans lead the charge, House Republicans have cheered them on. Representative Chip Roy (R-Texas), who was Cruz’s chief of staff and was the architect of his shutdown strategy, said it was worth shutting down the government for a few days even if it didn’t affect not politics.

Republicans should “spend this weekend and force people to understand that there is seriousness and resolve and send a strong message,” Roy said.

But Democrats are already previewing their posts in the event of a government shutdown over the weekend, throwing blame on the other side in a way even most Republicans would like to avoid.

“Let’s be clear: if there is a stop, it will be a Republican anti-vaccine stop,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) said Thursday.


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