House Democrats slammed new GOP efforts to thwart the federal vaccine mandate by delaying a must-pass government funding bill on Wednesday.
In the Senate, Mike Lee of Utah is leading an effort to delay a bill to extend government funding, which expires at midnight on Friday. A delay could cause a brief and partial government shutdown.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries and Vice Chairman Pete Aguilar reiterated Biden’s mandate, which they said will help deter the impact of omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant. They slammed Republicans for opposing the mandate and potentially blocking critical government funding.
Jeffries said Biden’s vaccine requirements “are reasonable public health measures” and drew a contrast to President Donald Trump, who he claimed was dismissive of the virus and advocated “the American people intake Lysol.”
Democrats are siding with the Biden vaccine mandates despite successful court challenges and mounting opposition from Republicans and many workers.
Biden’s mandate has been put on hold in some states following court challenges, and the administration has suspended enforcement for private businesses.
TRUMP DENIES HE HAD COVID-19 BEFORE BIDEN DEBATE
In addition to Lee, a group of House conservatives is pushing for Senate Republicans to delay passage of government funding until the mandate is lifted.
"The fact that they want to walk right up to a government shutdown over a public health issue should frighten the American public,” Aguilar said. “That's exactly what they are advocating here.”
Lee probably lacks enough GOP support to block the funding extension but could delay it by a couple of days by refusing to allow quick consideration, which requires the full consent of the Senate.
Government funding could run dry over the weekend.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, is unlikely to support Lee’s effort. He told reporters on Tuesday, “Nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown.”
A Lee spokesman has not returned a request for a comment from the Washington Examiner.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
Aguilar said even a brief shutdown would be hurtful and suggested Republicans have regularly stood in the way of continuous government funding. The last major shutdown, which took place during the Trump administration and lasted 35 days, came after Senate Democrats refused to support a spending bill that included border wall funding Trump had demanded.
“That could impact government services, come Friday evening,” Aguilar said. “This is everything from military members' pay, to projects underway, to national parks. This isn't anything that anyone should root for. And the fact that this has become such a mainstay for the Republican Party is just frightening.”
Last month, Lee attempted to win unanimous passage of a bill he introduced to "protect federal workers from the president’s vaccine mandate." Democrats blocked the measure.