Congress Launches Investigation into Federal COVID Shot Mandates

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Originally published on by Amber Baker

A U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee launched a probe earlier this month into the COVID-19 shot mandates and related policies enacted by the Biden administration in 2021 during the coronavirus pandemic. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic is demanding answers about the federal government's decision to order COVID shot mandates for federal workers and businesses with more than 100 employees, three years after President Joe Biden said in 2020 that he would not make COVID shots mandatory.1 2

In their written requests, the House subcommittee demanded documentation that supported the widely controversial and publicly scrutinized decision to mandate that millions of American workers take the experimental mRNA product or lose their jobs. Requested documentation includes internal communications, drafts of the requirements, mandate implementation data, such as  requested exemptions and any resulting terminations, and more. The House Select Subcommittee requests, which included a deadline of Aug. 15, 2023, were sent to the Office of Personnel Management and the Departments of Defense, Labor, and Health and Human Services.3

House Investigation Seeks to Prevent Government Overreach "Should There Be Future Pandemics"

In an Aug. 1, 2023 press release, subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup of Ohio stated the probe would look into "the development and implementation of overreaching, federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates" at the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The Select Subcommittee is asking DoD, OPM, DOL and HHS to provide any relevant data on requested exemptions and terminated employment resulting from the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine mandates," Congressman Wenstrup said. ​​"We are investigating how the mandates came to be to inform Congressional action should there be a future pandemic."1

The probe into the Biden administration's controversial vaccine mandate policy comes after tens of millions of workers were forced to comply and take the first-ever messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID shots or risk losing their jobs. Pfizer/BioNTech's Comirnaty mRNA COVID biologic was the first mRNA shot to gain approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The federal public health emergency order ended on May 11, 2023--more than three years after it began in January 2020.4 5

"The mandate was breathtaking in its scope, applying to approximately 84 million American employees and preempting any contrary states laws," Congressman Wenstrup said. "The Biden administration disregarded medical freedom, patient-physician relationships, and clear scientific standards to force a novel vaccine on millions of Americans without sufficient evidence to support their policies."3 6

Shortly after the implementation of President Biden's COVID vaccine mandates, refusal ranked in the top 10 reasons for job cuts in 2021, according to a Job Cuts Report released by outplacement, business, and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. in 2021. "Roughly 5,000 people that lost their jobs in the last month due to COVID vaccine refusal made up actually 22% of the total number of people that we tracked being let go across the country," the Chicago-based firm's senior vice president Andy Challenger said.7

Supreme Court Rules Vaccine-or-Test Mandate "Exceeds Presidential Authority"

Back in 2022, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) removed the "vaccine-or-test" mandate for businesses after the U.S. Supreme Court determined the mandate exceeded presidential authority. As included in the Path Out of the Pandemic COVID-19 Action Plan released by the Biden administration in 2021, OSHA was tasked with requiring employers with more than 100 employees to make sure the employees received COVID vaccinations, with  any unvaccinated workers mandated to undergo weekly COVID testing.8

"OSHA has never before imposed such a mandate; nor has Congress. Indeed, although Congress has enacted significant legislation addressing the COVID–19 pandemic, it has declined to enact any measure similar to what OSHA has promulgated here," the Supreme Court's conservative majority wrote in an opinion piece.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds Supreme Court's Nationwide Ban on Vaccine Mandates

Earlier this year, a ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the 2022 Supreme Court decision to ban the vaccine mandate for federal employees. Judge Andrew Oldham--who said of the federal workers who sued the Biden administration over the vaccine mandate that their case had merit and would likely succeed--deemed the COVID vaccine an "irreversible medical procedure."

Judge Oldham went on to say both sides will need to grapple with the reality that, regardless of where they stand on controversial vaccine mandates, the COVID emergency will finally end on May 11, 2023."9

U.S. Military Readiness Concerns Persist After 17,000 Service Members Refused COVID Vaccine

Congressman Wenstrup, in his statement, points to the detrimental and lasting consequences of rash, unfounded, and ultimately unconstitutional public health policy decisions, specifically their effects on U.S. military readiness: "As of March 2023, approximately 17,000 service members had refused to take the vaccine. Around half of those members have been discharged and a few of those discharged have secured temporary or permanent exemptions. As of Jan. 10, 2023, the U.S. Armed Forces had tens of thousands of pending exemption requests. This raises serious concerns regarding the vaccine mandate's effect on military readiness."

"Although all federal mandates have since been rescinded, overturned, or otherwise ended, the detrimental consequences of these policy decisions continue to affect thousands of Americans, and the federal government's egregious interference in the sacred doctor-patient relationship will undoubtedly have long-lasting ramifications," Congressman Wenstrup wrote. "The Select Subcommittee is committed to conducting a thorough investigation of any wrongdoing by government officials and seeks to deliver answers about COVID-19 vaccine mandates to the American people."10


1 Press Release. Wenstrup Opens Investigation into Federal COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates. U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, Aug. 1, 2023.

2 Porter T. Video shows President-elect Biden saying 10 months ago he wouldn't make vaccines mandatory. Business Insider Sept. 10, 2021.

3 King R. House Republicans target Biden administration on COVID vaccine mandates. The New York Post Aug. 1, 2023.

4 The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. End of Public Health Emergency. May 5, 2023.

5 Simmons-Duffin S. The COVID public health emergency ends this week. Here's what's changing. NPR May 8, 2023.

6 Etzel G. House COVID-19 subcommittee investigating vaccine mandates. Washington Examiner Aug. 1, 2023.

7 del Castillo A. COVID vaccine refusal 10th highest reason for job cuts in 2021, report says. ABC7 Nov. 5, 2021.

8 Patteson C. Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses. The New York Post Jan. 13, 2022.

9 Serbu J. Federal appeals court upholds ban on vaccine mandate for federal employees. Federal News Network Mar. 24, 2023.

10 Fortinsky S. House COVID-19 panel launches probe into federal vaccine mandates. The Hill Aug. 1, 2023.

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