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Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

What they're saying: “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,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) told Politico.

  • “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.”
  • “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,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a Freedom Caucus member, told Playbook.

The other side: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he has talked to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about averting a shutdown.

  • "Any small group of members can say they want to shut down the government for something they believe is right. We'll have total chaos. It's up to the leaders on both sides to make sure that doesn’t happen," Schumer said.

The big picture: The House Freedom Caucus sent McConnell a letter Wednesday, urging him to deny the passage of funding legislation unless it essentially prohibits the Biden administration from enforcing its vaccine mandates.

  • Asked by reporters about a potential shutdown over the mandates, McConnell said, "I think we’re going to be OK."

Go deeper: 2 federal judges temporarily block Biden vaccine mandates

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Schumer and McConnell.

Go deeper

Biden's epic failures

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

In the two months since signing the $1 trillion infrastructure bill into law, President Biden has by almost every measure bombed big time on the things that matter most.

The big picture: Biden, who marks one year in office next Thursday, has never been less popular nationally, after personally lobbying his party and the public on Build Back Better and voting rights — and failing.

Dem Senate candidates rally against “sellout” Sinema

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema enters the Democratic caucus meeting on Thursday with President Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate are now explicitly campaigning against one of their potential colleagues, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) — branded by one as a "sellout" for opposing filibuster changes to enact party priorities.

Why it matters: It's an evolution of an increasingly popular strategy among Democrats: turning legislative inaction to their advantage by casting themselves as the "50th vote" for programs or the filibuster changes needed to pass President Biden's agenda.

Senate Democrats sink Ted Cruz's bill to sanction Nord Stream 2

Sen. Ted Cruz. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate on Thursday failed to pass a bill sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, after the Biden administration aggressively lobbied Democrats to defeat Sen. Ted Cruz's effort to target the Putin-backed project.

Why it matters: The 55-44 vote is the culmination of Cruz's months-long push to force Democrats into an uncomfortable vote on Nord Stream 2, which the Ukrainian government has said is "no less an existential threat to our security" than the tens of thousands of Russian troops massing on its border. The bill needed 60 votes to pass.