Saturday, September 11, 2021

Members of Congress, their staffs will be exempt from Biden's federal vaccine mandate

Chris Enloe

 While President Joe Biden is using a legally questionable statute to enforce what is essentially a vaccine mandate on the American workforce, members of Congress, their staffs, and anyone who works in Congress will reportedly be exempt from the mandate.

What is the background?

Biden announced Thursday a sweeping vaccine mandate that requires businesses employing more than 100 people to require vaccination for employees or force employees submit to routine COVID-19 testing.

The mandate, which will impact an estimated 80 million Americans, is being issued as an Emergency Temporary Standard from the Labor Department via the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

National Review explained what that means:

In other words, the rule will be expedited to avoid the comment period that typically allows those who would be affected by a given order to weigh in. While OSHA has authority to set certain health and safety standards in the workplace, it would be stretching its authority to claim that it can be used as a means to facilitate broader public-health goals. Just this July, the Congressional Research Service updated a report on the emergency standard and noted that OSHA "has rarely used this authority in the past—not since the courts struck down its ETS on asbestos in 1983."

Meanwhile, federal workers and federal contractors will be subject to a wholesale vaccine mandate, as well as health care workers who work in facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.

Why does the mandate not apply to Congress?

The New York Times reported that Biden's mandate "will apply to employees of the executive branch, including the White House and all federal agencies and members of the armed services — a work force that numbers more than four million — but not to those who work for Congress or the federal court system, according to White House officials."

The reason workers outside the executive branch are exempt is because Biden is implementing the mandate via executive order...

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Let's play a little "what if" here. Suppose the President's EO could have covered Congress. Would Biden have imposed this mandate on the House and Senate? I don't think so. Besides, what would the penalty be for noncompliance?

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