Members of Congress, Federal Judges, Staffers Exempt From Vaccine Mandate
On Thursday evening, President Joe Biden unveiled two executive orders that could mandate vaccinations for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus for millions of working Americans in both the public and private spheres. But absent from these mandates are similar requirements for members of Congress, federal judges, or their staffers.
Biden’s executive orders would unilaterally require vaccination for federal employees, the military, and government contractors. The president also asked Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to require that firms with over 100 employees either mandate vaccination or weekly CCP virus tests. In total, these mandates could affect over 100 million American workers, making it one of the widest-reaching vaccine mandates in world history.
Biden wrote, “It is the policy of my Administration to halt the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), including the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, by relying on the best available data and science-based public health measures.”
The order continued, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the Department of Health and Human Services has determined that the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection by the Delta variant or other variants is to be vaccinated.”
In the second section, Biden lays out this rigorous policy, requiring all executive agencies to “implement, to the extent consistent with applicable law, a program to require COVID-19 vaccination for all of its Federal employees, with exceptions only as required by law.” Such exemptions are few and strictly defined.
The order would cover civilian employees of executive offices like the State Department and Department of Defense, and would also require all military personnel to receive the vaccine. In total, this no-excuses order would affect millions of civilian and non-civilian federal employees.
The president went beyond this, however, laying out a framework that would require private-sector employers to mandate vaccines or weekly testing for their employees. To achieve this, Biden turned to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency tasked with ensuring that companies protect the safety of their employees.
OSHA’s “emergency temporary standards” policy does allow for some immediate action from the agency. Under “certain limited conditions,” according to OSHA’s website, “OSHA is authorized to set emergency temporary standards that take effect immediately and are in effect until superseded by a permanent standard.” To issue such a temporary order, OSHA “must determine that workers are in grave danger” from toxic substances or other “physically harmful” agents.
If OSHA complies with the request from the president, workers in mid-sized to large firms—any firm with more than 100 employees—across the country will be affected. These employees would be forced to choose between weekly testing and vaccination in an effort to further push the unvaccinated into getting the new medication.
But not included in the executive orders are mandates for members of federal employees in the legislative or judicial branches, including members of Congress, their staffers, as well as federal judges and other court employees.
Earlier in the year, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked about requiring that members of Congress be vaccinated.
“Public health officials are encouraging wearing masks indoors,” Pelosi began.
She continued: “So here’s the thing—we cannot require someone to be vaccinated. It’s just not what we can do.”
The vaccination status of any member of Congress, Pelosi said, “is a matter of privacy.” She noted that she “cannot go to the Capitol physician and say ‘give me the names of people who aren’t vaccinated’ so I can go encourage them or make it known to others to encourage them to be vaccinated.” Pelosi closed, “So we can’t do that.”
While Democrats in Congress claim to have a 100 percent vaccination rate, some Republicans in both chambers expressed hesitancy. It is unclear exactly what percentage of members are vaccinated. Under this executive order, holdouts in Congress would not be forced to get a vaccine.
Likewise, because federal courts are not under the executive branch, federal judges and their staffers are not covered under Biden’s sweeping mandate.