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.
Verify confirmed, citing the Congressional Institute, that Biden “cannot impose a vaccine mandate on Congress via executive order or in an agency or department regulation.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said the House will not enact a vaccine mandate.
“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. I can’t 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.’ So we can’t — we can’t do that,” Pelosi said in April.