The House passed legislation 221-212 on Thursday to fund the government through Feb. 18, but the measure could face a delay in the Senate unless lawmakers resolve a debate over ending President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.

A stopgap government funding bill expires Friday at midnight, which leaves senators little more than a day to clear the new temporary bill for Biden’s signature.

A group of GOP senators led by Mike Lee of Utah may block quick passage, however, unless Democratic leaders allow a vote to end the federal vaccine mandate. The dispute could delay final passage of the funding bill for several days, which would trigger a partial shutdown through the weekend.

Leaders in both parties pledged Thursday to keep the government open.


“We are not going to shut the government down,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told Fox News on Thursday. “Almost no one on either side thinks that’s a good idea.”

Lee is among a group of GOP senators who pledged earlier this month not to vote for or permit fast passage of a temporary funding bill that left the vaccine mandates in place.

While Republicans in the House have little power to slow down or block legislation, the Senate requires the consent of all 100 lawmakers in order to bring a bill up immediately.

Lee wants a vote on banning the vaccine mandate with a 51-vote threshold for passage instead of the usual 60-vote threshold. A lower threshold would increase the likelihood that the ban would pass.

Senate leaders, Majority Whip Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, told reporters, “are considering options to satisfy Mike Lee so we can fund the government.”

If the Senate amends the bill, the House would have to pass the amended version in order for Biden to sign it into law.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, signaled Thursday she won’t support the bill if it includes a vaccine mandate ban.

“We’re not going to go for their acts of anti-vaccine,” Pelosi said. “You think that's how we're going to keep government open? Forget that.”


House Republican leaders called on the rank and file to vote against the House bill because it provides $7 billion to resettle Afghanistan refugees without additional vetting, among other criticisms.