Members of Congress, Staff Exempt From Biden's Vaccine Mandate
By Cathy Burke | Monday, 13 September 2021 05:18 PM
President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for federal workers doesn’t apply to members of Congress, their staff or the federal courts.
In issuing two executive orders last week, Biden ordered that COVID-19 vaccinations are mandated for federal workers and contractors who work for the federal government.
He also asked the Department of Labor to issue an emergency order requiring businesses with more than 100 employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested on a weekly basis.
But the order on federal workers only affects employees of the executive branch. The House and the Senate belong to the separate legislative branch, and the courts to the judicial branch of the federal government.
Biden's COVID action plan published on the White House website spells it out.
"Building on the President's announcement in July to strengthen safety requirements for unvaccinated federal workers, the President has signed an Executive Order to take those actions a step further and require all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated.”
"The President also signed an Executive Order directing that this standard be extended to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government," the plan goes on.
"As part of this effort, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institute of Health will complete implementation of their previously announced vaccination requirements that cover 2.5 million people."
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said on April 29 the House couldn't require members to be vaccinated — and video of those remarks got new attention following Biden’s announcement, Newsweek noted.
Pelosi's office reiterated that position last week, telling Newsweek her remarks in April were "referring to the institution in which she serves."
Last month, a group of House Democrats wrote a letter to the Capitol's attending physician, Dr. Brian P. Monahan, asking him to consider a vaccine requirement or a minimum of two COVID tests per week for members and staff who can't show proof of vaccination.
No requirement has yet been put in place, Newsweek noted.
Meanwhile, federal employees and contractors will have 75 days to get vaccinated, but one union said it will have to be negotiated, the Daily Mail reported.
“Workers deserve a voice in their working conditions,” the American Federal of Government Employees, the large union of federal workers, said in a statement, the Daily Mail reported.
And the National Federation of Federal Employees, another government workers union, said they didn't receive advance notice of the executive order.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs already mandate vaccines for their employees. The military also has issued a vaccine mandate.