Biden’s order Thursday mandating COVID-19 vaccinations among federal workers and contractors drops the option of regular testing and allows only some religious and disability exemptions. The order applies only to employees of the executive branch and does not apply to the legislative or judicial branches of government, the White House confirmed to Fox News.
In April, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress couldn’t mandate the vaccine among members and that it was a “matter of privacy.” In early August, she signaled she would be open to mandating the vaccine once it was granted full approval by the Food and Drug Administration, but she has not appeared to have revisited the issue since Pfizer’s vaccine was approved late last month.
On Aug. 3, a group of House Democrats sent a letter to the Attending Physician of Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, asking him to mandate vaccines for members of Congress and their staff or to require twice-weekly COVID-19 testing. It is not clear how many members of the House and Senate remain unvaccinated, but the number is estimated to be very low.
As part of his plan announced Thursday, Biden said companies with 100 or more employees will have to mandate vaccines or weekly COVID-19 testing under a forthcoming emergency order by the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which will apply to more than 80 million private-sector workers. The administration said companies that don’t comply can face fines of almost $14,000.
Republicans have blasted the order as unconstitutional.