Utah Senator Mike Lee threatens government shutdown over COVID-19 vaccine mandates

Posted at 7:23 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 21:23:19-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. House of representatives has passed a continuing resolution meant to keep the federal government funded through February.

The only thing left before the Friday deadline in order to avoid a government shutdown is for the senate also to pass the bill, but a group of determined GOP senators, led by Utah Senator Mike Lee (R), is standing in the way of that passage.

“I don’t want to shut down the government. The only thing I want to shut down is congress funding an immoral, unconstitutional vaccine mandate” Lee said on the floor of the senate Thursday.

House Democrats and the White House are urging a speedy passage for the bill in the Senate, but Lee and other GOP members could put that to a stop, resulting in a government shutdown.

Lee said he is not opposed to vaccinations, saying in fact that he encourages them. The Utah senator also said it isn’t that he wants that funding stripped from the bill, but instead wants the Senate to vote on whether that funding continues as an amendment.

So far, the Senate has yet to make moves towards such a vote.

“If the choice is between temporarily suspending non-essential functions on the one hand and on the other hand standing idle as up to 45 million Americans lose their jobs their livelihoods and their ability to work I’ll stand with American workers every time,” Lee said.

One who was confused by that statement was Jeff Worthington, President of the AFL-CIO in Utah who responded by saying, “I find that an interesting statement that he will stand with the workers” after a pause adding “You shut the government down you aren’t standing with the workers.”

Worthington and his organization represent many federal workers and offers assistance.

"Those workers are dependent upon the money they receive in a paycheck,” he said. “To weaponize it and politicize it like it has been it's just gone too far.”

Worthington doesn’t want to weigh in on the vaccine mandate at all and thinks that’s not the issue, the big concern is that those in Utah could potentially suffer because of a political fight in Washington D.C.

In the State of Utah, if the federal government were to shut down, workers from Hill Air Force Base, The TSA, IRS and others would be impacted.

"The only people that got hurt out of it were the workers. Especially our TSA,” Worthington said. “During the last government shutdown the TSA workers they couldn’t even afford gas to put in their cars to get to work.”

Senator Lee as well as others in the House and Senate brought up those workers that could be laid off if a vaccine mandate were to continue (Lee saying 45 million people are possible). Worthington and Federal Employees say they are worried they could now be in caught in the crossfire right in the middle of the holiday season.

“They’ve got their house payments to make, they’ve got Christmas coming up presents to buy taking care of their families, keeping a roof over their heads” Worthington said. “You can imagine where we are going to go if the paychecks quit coming in. Going into the holidays like this. It's reckless.”

He says that they will do whatever they can for workers if a shutdown does happen starting this weekend adding that they maintain a food pantry as well for those that might be in need.