Democrats and Republicans compromised on the terms of the bill. Republicans won an extension until February 18, which is later than Democrats wished for. Democrats included an additional $7 billion for the resettlement of Afghanistan refugees, which Republicans opposed because other vetting safeguards did not accompany the money.
The bill passed the Senate after Democratic leaders struck a deal with a group of Senate Republicans who asserted they would block the swift passage of the bill in protest of Biden’s mandate that federal workers and employees of large businesses get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Marshall was among a group of Republican senators headed by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who last month warned they would block swift passage and vote to defeat government funding to stand in the way of the mandate.
Lee urged lawmakers Thursday to vote to end the mandate. It has been put on hold in some states following court challenges, and the Administration has suspended enforcement for private businesses.
“If you don’t want to get the virus, get the vaccine,” Lee stated Thursday. “But the answer to someone not agreeing with your medical advice is not to fire you, and it sure as heck isn’t to have the president of the United States fine every employer in America that doesn’t want to do this, whether they have religious objections or otherwise. This is wrong, we know it’s wrong, and we can stop this right now.”
Republicans controlled only 50 votes, and not one Democrat voted for the Marshall amendment, effectively killing it in a 50-48 vote. Two GOP senators were not present.
The legislation buys Congress 11 additional weeks to figure out a deal on yearlong spending. The two parties have been hung up on spending levels for defense and domestic programs and “poison pill” provisions that Democrats hope to include, among them a provision that would allow taxpayer funding for abortion.
Republicans have criticized Democrats for writing legislation without cooperating with them and including provisions and spending levels they know can’t make it past a GOP filibuster. Democrats say the GOP is refusing to negotiate at all.
“We have a job to do, and the bill we will soon vote on gives us roughly two months to do it,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, declared. “That is plenty of time. But the Republican leadership needs to step up and engage, and they need to do it in the next few weeks. Otherwise, we will be right back here on February 18.”