Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) led a group of lawmakers this week demanding a vote on the question of funding Joe Biden’s federal vaccine mandate.
The effort came as the federal government faced another shutdown crisis as a funding deadline loomed. Speaker Nancy Pelosi cobbled together a deal in the House on Thursday, leaving the Senate as the only hurdle for a funding bill. Lee and a small group of Senate Republicans used the opportunity to press for a floor vote on the Biden vaccine mandate.
In a floor speech Thursday, Lee said that his group was “not inclined” to support a funding bill that would fund Biden’s “unconstitutional and sweeping vaccine mandate” without a total vote on the mandate as a separate measure.
Lee said he was not asking for a “poison pill” or “pet project” to support the funding measure. He said that he only wants the members of the Senate to “go on record” regarding their support for funding the Biden vaccine mandate. He added that the American people “have a right to know where we stand.”
Biden’s mandate for private employers of 100 or more workers will require enforcement through an emergency rule enacted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The mandate is set to impact more than 80 million Americans if its final effect. OSHA has suspended moving forward with the mandate for the time being due to a series of restraining orders issued by federal courts.
The fear of a government shutdown drove many Republican senators away from Lee, who only received full support from Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).
Several Senate Republicans hesitated to challenge Biden since the federal courts have held the OSHA order. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) said he didn’t “quite understand the strategy” of using the funding bill to bring attention to opposition to the mandate. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was predictably opposed to Lee, saying that the plan “smacks of virtue signaling.”
The Senate agreed to move forward without Lee’s amendment by Thursday evening, approving the measure to fund the government by a 69-28 vote.