Pelosi Says FDA Approval Of Pfizer Shot May Prompt Vaccine Mandate For Lawmakers
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Friday full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the Food and Drug Administration – reportedly expected as soon as early next month – would open the door to a vaccine mandate for lawmakers and staff, the strongest indication yet from the House’s highest ranking member that such as option is on the table.
Pelosi said during a press conference that FDA approval for the Pfizer vaccine, which is only authorized for emergency use, would “make a difference in terms of what we can do,” though she noted it’s a decision for Capitol physician Brian P. Monahan.
The FDA hopes to finish the full approval process by Labor Day, or Sept. 6, according to the New York Times, with an FDA spokesperson telling Forbes they are taking an “all hands on deck approach.”
19 House Democrats sent a letter to Monahan urging him to require lawmakers and staff to be vaccinated or take semi-weekly tests, warning that to give into “partisan pressure” to not mandate them would “call into question the objectivity” of his decision making.
Pelosi also took aim at Republicans who have railed against the House’s coronavirus mitigation measure, noting that Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) recently tested positive for the virus after suing her to knock down the House’s mask mandate.
Wendy Parmet, a professor of health policy law at Northeastern University, told Forbes that while Congress has “different” legal parameters than other workplaces, the legal case for vaccine mandates is already “pretty strong.”
“We cannot require someone to be vaccinated. That’s just not what we can do. It is a matter of privacy to know who is or who isn’t,” Pelosi said in April. She didn’t answer on Friday when asked if she still holds that belief, but said “weighing the equities” may take Monahan to a “different place” on a vaccine mandate.
85%. That’s the share of House members who were vaccinated as of late July, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a floor speech arguing against the reintroduction of the House chamber mask mandate. A senior Democratic aide told Forbes in mid-June, when the mandate was originally lifted, that 85% of lawmakers and staff were vaccinated.
It is likely that all unvaccinated members of Congress are Republicans, given that all House and Senate Democrats reported being vaccinated in a CNN survey in May. Three Senate Republicans – Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) and Mike Braun (R-Ind.) – have refused to get vaccinated.