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House Democrats Push For Vaccine-Or-Test Mandate For Members And Staff

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 4, 2021


A group of House Democrats is urging the Capitol’s attending physician to follow President Joe Biden’s lead and mandate coronavirus vaccines or semi-weekly tests for lawmakers and their aides as the Delta variant continues to fuel a resurgence of the pandemic.

Key Facts

19 House Democrats led by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) told the Capitol’s attending physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan in a letter he “should be considering a vaccine requirement,” or a minimum of two tests per week for those who cannot show proof of vaccination.

The lawmakers pointed to “unique factors” of working in Congress, such as members’ frequent travel between Washington, D.C. and their districts, as well as the vulnerability of immunocompromised staffers.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet weighed in on the letter, but she said in April – before Biden implemented a vaccine-or-test mandate for federal workers – that she can’t compel lawmakers to get vaccinated “as a matter of privacy.”

Wendy Parmet, a professor of health policy law at Northeastern University, told Forbes the law around vaccine mandates for Congress is “different” than for other employers, but that the legal case for vaccine mandates in general is “pretty strong” if some exemptions are provided.

The House Democrats said in their letter exemptions should be carved out for religious beliefs and health conditions, but that exempt individuals should still be subject to the testing requirement.

Forbes has reached out to Pelosi’s office – which has said they follow and enforce guidelines set by Monahan – for comment.

Big Number

85%. That’s the share of members and staff who were vaccinated as of mid-June, when Monahan lifted a mask mandate for the House chamber, a senior Democratic aide told Forbes at the time. The mask mandate for the chamber, as well as House office buildings and committee rooms, was reinstated last week after several breakthrough cases roiled the Capitol.

Crucial Quote

“To forego the common-sense decision to require vaccination or frequent testing in the halls of Congress due to partisan pressure would call into question the objectivity of how we make health and safety decisions for this institution,” the lawmakers wrote to Monahan, arguing a non-partisan vaccine mandate could even “contribute to the depoliticization” of the vaccine.

Chief Critic

“The decision to get vaccinated or not is a personal and private medical decision. This bill is about individual rights,” Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) said Thursday of legislation he introduced which aims to prohibit vaccine requirements. Higgins, who has not revealed if he’s vaccinated, said days earlier he and his family were grappling with “difficult” coronavirus infections.


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