While there was talk of a government shutdown, and "#ShutItDown" was even trending on Twitter for a time, Congress averted a shutdown on Thursday evening when both the House and the Senate passed legislation to fund the government through February 18 with a continuing resolution (CR). Late on Thursday evening, the Senate voted 69-28.
69-28, Senate clears stop-gap to keep government open til Feb. 18— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 3, 2021
The CR passed the House earlier in the evening 221-212, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL) being the only Republican to vote with Democrats. Some Republicans, like Rep. Chip Roy (TX), wanted to tie funding the government to President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate.
"The issue is a Congress that is supposed to use the power of the purse"— Rep. Chip Roy Press Office (@RepChipRoy) December 2, 2021
"We have a moral obligation to give voice and representation to the people who elected us, whose liberty and livelihoods are being attacked"#DefundVaxMandates #DefundTheMandates pic.twitter.com/KYjjAOTriM
Its fate was less certain in the Senate, though, again, due to vaccine mandates. An agreement was reached, though, when the Senate agreed to vote on an amendment from Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) to defund Biden's vaccine mandate and testing requirements, with only a simple majority.
A Wednesday morning edition of POLITICO Playbook included a statement from Sen. Lee. "I’m sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the CR, but I can’t facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates,” he said. "Given that federal courts across the country have raised serious issues with these mandates, it’s not unreasonable for my Democratic colleagues to delay enforcement of the mandates for at least the length of the continuing resolution."
While the amendment did receive a vote on Thursday night, it failed 48-50, with Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) failing to cross the aisle to vote with Republicans.
48-50, Senate rejects GOP amendment to block Biden’s vaccine mandate. Senate about to vote to clear measure to keep government open til Feb. 18— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 3, 2021
Manchin and Sinema just voted against the GOP’s amendment to defund the Biden vaccine mandate. Vote is still ongoing— Manu Raju (@mkraju) December 3, 2021
As Jordain Carney reported for The Hill, Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) had missed the vote.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had earlier on Thursday dismissed the idea of a government shutdown during an interview with Fox News.
“There’s a decent chance the courts will strike them down,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on vaccine mandates, right now on Fox News.— Eva McKend (@evamckend) December 2, 2021
“I don’t think shutting down the government over this issue is going to get an outcome. It would only create chaos and uncertainty.”
The House Freedom Caucus, which Rep. Roy is a member of, had sent a letter to McConnell on Wednesday morning, asking him to "use all procedural tools at his disposal to deny timely passage of the CR unless it prohibits funding for the vaccine mandates."
??????BREAKING: House Freedom Caucus sends letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging him to use all procedural tools at his disposal to deny timely passage of the CR unless it prohibits funding for the vaccine mandates.— House Freedom Caucus (@freedomcaucus) December 1, 2021
Full letter?? pic.twitter.com/6wM8BWXqAd
As Carney also reported, "Republicans will get another shot at Biden’s vaccine mandate next week, where they can vote to nix the regulation with a simple majority under the Congressional Review Act. McConnell, during a Fox News interview, said that it had a 'decent chance of passing the Senate.'"