Senate Strikes Funding Deal in the Saint Nick of Time

December 3, 2021

If federal workers were hoping for an early start on their Christmas vacation, they're out of luck! No one is turning off the government's lights any time soon, thanks to a deal struck in the Senate late Thursday night. With Friday's shutdown deadline breathing down Democrats' necks, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) decided that maybe it wasn't such a good idea for his party to preside over another disaster and finally caved to the conservatives' demand: a vote on the vaccine mandate.

Look, Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kans.) said on the floor, "No precedent exists in American history for punishing private employers who don't enforce government vaccination edicts." He, together with Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), had been adamant that the last thing the government needed to fund were efforts like Joe Biden forcing the vaccine on Americans against their will. "This [amendment]," Marshall argued, "is an opportunity to right a wrong... Let's give employers certainty and employees peace of mind that they will still have a job in the new year. Make no mistake: These vaccine mandates are not about public health or science. If they were, the White House would recognize the 92 percent of Americans who have already built up immunity to this virus between vaccines and natural immunity..."

Marshall, a doctor and outspoken advocate for life and conscience, went to the mat against Schumer, threatening with Cruz and Lee to block the continuing resolution (CR) that needed all 100 senators to proceed. "I've offered a very simple solution, a very reasonable solution," Lee told reporters. "I just want to vote on one amendment." In the end, their determination paid off. Boxed in, and weary of the public blame game, Schumer relented.

Unfortunately, the trio's amendment to stop enforcement of Biden's mandate fell just short -- failing 48-50 because two Republicans were traveling and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the possible swing vote, didn't want to shut the government down during a pandemic. Still, Marshall's stand was a victory where it counted: making Schumer blink -- and getting every Democratic senator on record in support of an unconstitutional mandate that a majority of Americans oppose.

A few hours earlier, Marshall explained on "Washington Watch" that he isn't anti-vaccine, but he is anti-tyranny. "We don't want an economic shutdown. And if there were no more federal mandates, we'd be okay with this [CR]. But specifically, we don't want a federal mandate requiring businesses [to demand vaccinations or face fines]... In Kansas, Arizona, a million jobs will be impacted. In Georgia, 1.8 million people would lose their jobs as well." And it's not like the GOP just decided to throw a wrench in the government's funding plans. "We asked Leader Schumer, months ago to fix this problem before we [got] to this date. He's waited until today to take a peek at this again."

The question is: what are Democrats afraid of? If the mandate is such a good idea, why not just schedule a vote and be done with it? Why put the funding of the entire government on the line? Because deep down, the Left knows the president's vaccine mandates are losing in the court of popular opinion -- and in the courts themselves! For a party with the slimmest possible majority, that's a tough vote to swallow. As Marshall pointed out, it's not just about personal freedom, it's about Americans' livelihoods -- and more. "It's going to impact national security. It's going to impact supply chains and increase inflation."

For now, at least, Republicans have made their point. As for the actual continuing resolution, while it may be a stretch to say there's a silver lining, but there is an upside. Since the two sides can't seem to come to any sort of agreement on spending bills, this bridge funding to February 18 at least guarantees that Democrats can't strip out any of the important pro-life, pro-freedom riders that existed on the budget bills under Donald Trump. Passing these CRs is one way Republicans can guarantee that the government doesn't run out of money -- or principles on things like taxpayer-funded abortion.

The House has done its best to undermine the GOP's work under Trump, radically rewriting nine of the 12 agency funding bills. So far, the Senate hasn't taken up a single one. And when they do, conservatives are in no mood to compromise. When reporters asked Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) if the Republicans were going to stonewall until the Left dropped its "poison pills," the ranking Appropriations member replied, "That's our plan."

Our hats go off to all of the Senate (and House) conservatives fighting to hold the line on the Democrats' extremism. The American people are looking to Republicans in Congress to stand up to the overreach of the Biden administration -- and thanks to Senators Marshall, Lee, Cruz, and so many others, they haven't been disappointed. We're grateful for men and women who stand up for our convictions -- and force the Left to defend their own.