Government nears possible shutdown as Republicans take aim at vaccination and testing mandates

The U.S. government on Wednesday teetered one step closer to a potential weekend shutdown, as Republicans seized on a fast-approaching fiscal deadline to mount fresh opposition to President Biden’s vaccine and testing mandates.

At least one Republican in the Senate — Utah’s Mike Lee — threatened to block swift debate on the measure. GOP leaders on Wednesday found themselves bracing for others to join, either by stalling the process or trying to force a vote on an amendment to defund the vaccine and testing mandate.

“We’re opposed to the mandate,” said GOP Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.). “We don’t want the federal government to be able to fund them in any way shape or form.”

But Biden’s approach has drawn a slew of legal challenges still playing out in federal courts, while prompting a fierce, vocal reaction among Republicans on Capitol Hill, who see the mandate as unconstitutional. GOP lawmakers have launched repeated legislative salvos to try to defund or eliminate it, only to be stymied so far in the House and Senate, where they are outnumbered by Democrats.

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