As the deadline for Congress to reach a deal on funding the government looms, Ted Cruz and a number of his fellow Republican senators want to force a shutdown over vaccine mandates.
The leaders of both parties want to pass a short-term funding bill, with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell flatly stating, “we’re not going to shut the government down.” However, Cruz is one of 15 Republican senators who have other ideas. If the bill does not defund vaccine mandates, they will deny the unanimous consent needed to accelerate its passage and ensure it reaches a vote ahead of the Friday deadline. In other words, they can’t completely stop a funding bill but they can delay it long enough to cause a shutdown.
“I think we should use the leverage we have to fight against what are illegal, unconstitutional, and abusive mandates,” Cruz told reporters. While Cruz has recently blasted Sesame Street over “government propaganda” regarding vaccines, the Washington Post reports that the senator is himself fully vaccinated.
The move has support from some House Republicans as well. “There is leverage immediately in the Senate, and we think that House Republicans ought to be backing up any number of Senate Republicans … to use all procedural tools to deny the continuing resolution passage Friday night — unless they restrict use of those funds for vaccine mandates,” said Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin). However, it seems Roy’s approach isn’t getting much traction among House GOP leadership as Republicans and Democrats in the House struck a deal on Thursday.
Fortunately, such a shutdown would probably be brief were it to occur. Due to allotted time agreements for debating a bill a final vote would likely happen by Sunday evening.
Ted Cruz is no stranger to government shutdowns. In 2013, when he was a newly-arrived freshman senator, he shut the government down for 16 days to try to force the defunding of the Affordable Care Act.
Historically, the GOP tends to suffer politically when they shut down the government. However, Cruz personally benefited from his 2013 antics, and he’s most certainly using the prospect of another shutdown to further his political prospects.
Most Republican senators do not support Cruz and company’s plan to shut down the government. “I don’t think shutdowns benefit people, like some folks think they do,” said Cruz’s fellow Texas senator John Cornyn.
Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images)