Republicans Gear Up For Government Funding Showdown Over Vaccine Mandates

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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House Republicans are preparing for a government funding fight over President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Republican Texas Rep. Chip Roy is currently circulating a petition urging his colleagues to oppose any government funding resolution that includes money for the enforcement of vaccine mandates. More than two dozen Republicans have already signed on to the petition, which has not yet been delivered to Republican Leaders Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell, a source familiar with the petition told the Daily Caller.

“Congressional Republicans cannot continue to abdicate their Article I duties in hopes the judicial branch will rule in favor of the American people,” the petition reads.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will no longer attempt to enforce a rule requiring that companies with more than 100 employees implement vaccine mandates and a testing regime for individuals who do not receive the shot. The OSHA announcement leaves mandates for healthcare workers, federal contractors, and all federal employees, including military service members, still on the books. The Supreme Court upheld a mandate for healthcare workers employed by organizations that accept Medicare and Medicaid funds, while the mandate for federal employees and contractors is currently the subject of several challenges.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Jan. 21 that 98% of federal employees have either received a COVID-19 vaccine or are currently in the process of requesting an exemption. More than 98% of active soldiers in the Army were vaccinated against the virus by Dec. 16, the branch’s Public Affairs Office announced at the time. (RELATED: Air Force Discharges 27 For Refusing COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate)

Roy, who has called for Republicans to hold up major pieces of legislation over the vaccine mandates, told the Daily Caller that “most Republicans say that vaccine mandates are tyrannical and foolish.”

“But will they unite before government funding expires on February 18th to pledge not to fund enforcement of these mandates? Will at least 10 of the 19 GOP Senators who voted to punt last time now stand up for healthcare workers or not?” he asked. “We’re going to find out.”

Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown in early December, after several Senate Republicans, led by Mike Lee of Utah, objected to the vaccine mandates. Lee, Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz agreed to withdraw their holds on the government funding package in exchange for a standalone vote on a rejection of the vaccine mandates. The standalone rejection passed in the Senate after Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana sided with all 50 Republicans, but Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi refused to bring the measure up for a vote.