Republicans feud over vaccine shutdown fight

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and a clutch of other Republicans are floating the idea of blocking a quick government spending vote until Democrats and Biden agree to bar funds for the mandates in the funding bill. Lee, the conference’s Steering Committee chair, is set to explain his strategy to his colleagues at a GOP lunch Wednesday.

He’ll face a skeptical audience. Several senators, from leadership allies to conservative stalwarts, said they do not support flirting with a shutdown over the vaccine debate. They say there are better ways to deal with it: the courts, amendment votes or trying to wind down regulations through the Congressional Review Act.

“I just don’t quite understand the strategy or the play of leverage for a mandate that’s been stayed by 10 courts,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “I want the vaccine mandates lifted, but I don’t think the [spending bill] is the tool to do it. For all practical purposes the mandates weaken every single day.”