Republicans in both the Senate and House could force a government shutdown in an effort to halt the funding of Biden's vaccine mandate on private sector businesses.
A group of Senate Republicans is reportedly planning to object to consideration of a measure to raise the debt ceiling that would extend funding into 2022 unless Democrat lawmakers agree to remove funding for the mandate, according to Politico's Playbook.
Because of the quickly approaching Friday deadline, and Senate rules that require unanimous consent to move, Republican Senators believe they will be able to drag the process out past that midnight deadline when funding expires and the debt ceiling is breached.
In November, treasury secretary Janet Yellen pushed back the debt ceiling default deadline from December 3 to December 15, moving it in part because of the passing of Biden's infrastructure bill.
According to Bloomberg, however, "The House's priority will be the Dec. 3 deadline to avoid a shutdown while also attempting to raise the debt ceiling around Dec. 15."
"I'm sure we would all like to simplify the process for resolving the CR, but I can't facilitate that without addressing the vaccine mandates," Senator Mike Lee told Playbook.
"Given that federal courts across the country have raised serious issues with these mandates, it's not unreasonable for my Democratic colleagues to delay enforcement of the mandates for at least the length of the continuing resolution."
It is currently unclear just how many Senators are willing to follow through with the shutdown threats, but 15 Republicans signed a letter penned by Senator Roger Marshal in early November stating that they will "use all means at our disposal" to block the passage of a continuing resolution that doesn't block Biden's mandate.
With the requirement of unanimous consent, it would just take one Senator to object in order to push past that Friday deadline.
Senate Republicans have support in the House, with the House Freedom Caucus voting on Tuesday night to pressure Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to take a harsher stance against the continuing resolution if Democrats refuse to remove funding for the mandate.
"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," Representative Chip Roy, a Freedom Caucus member, said.
According to Playbook, if the strategy works out, a government shutdown could likely drag into next week, as it takes at least five days for the Senate to process the continuing resolution.
On Tuesday, Senate majority Leader Chick Schumer preemptively blamed Senate Republicans for the possibility of trouble, telling reporters "To avoid a needless shutdown, Republicans will have to cooperate and approve the government funding legislation without delay. If Republicans choose obstruction, there will be a shutdown entirely because of their own dysfunction."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that "we won't shut down," adding that "nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown."
The issue reportedly came up at a Senate Republican lunch on Tuesday, and is expected to be a main topic at another Republican lunch being run by the Senate Steering Committee on Wednesday.