A House of Representatives Subcommittee has launched an investigation into COVID-19 vaccine mandates enacted by the Biden administration during the pandemic including the federal employee vaccine mandate.
The investigation is looking at “the development and implementation of overreaching, federal COVID-19 vaccination mandates and policies at the Department of Defense (DOD), U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Labor (DOL), and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)” according to the press release from Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic.
“Wenstrup is requesting access to all documents, communications, and guidance utilized by these agencies to craft their coercive policies prior to forcing a novel vaccine — that did not stop the spread or transmission of the virus — on millions of Americans,” according to the press release.
The House Subcommittee held a hearing last week “to evaluate the necessity and effectiveness of overreaching COVID-19 vaccine mandates and consider the erosion of public trust that stemmed from coercive vaccination policies.” The investigation is being launched as a result of the hearing.
In remarks at the hearing, Wenstrup said:
Unfortunately, the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will be forever tarnished by the Biden Administration’s decision to remove the doctor from the patient-doctor relationship and force COVID vaccines upon everyday Americans, the armed forces, and the federal workforce.
Despite repeatedly promising they would not, the Biden Administration decided to use the power of the executive to impose mandatory COVID-19 vaccination on tens of millions of Americans.
A decision that tarnished trust in public health officials and for many, actually may have led to vaccine hesitancy.
Even though the vaccine mandates for the majority of the federal workforce have been rescinded, Wenstrup said that the Subcommittee is “investigating how the mandates came to be to inform Congressional action should there be a future pandemic.”
He sent letters to the Department of Defense, Office of Personnel Management, Department of Labor, and Health and Human Services with requests for more information into their development of vaccine mandate policies.
In a letter to OPM Director Kiran Ahuja, Wenstrup requested the following from the agency by August 15, 2023, with regard to the federal employee vaccine mandate:
- All documents and materials OPM reviewed, considered, or relied upon prior to the drafting, commenting on, or editing any U.S. Government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, including but not limited to E.O. 14043 and the subsequent enforcement guidance memos.
- All documents and communications between or among employees or contractors of OPM regarding federal employee or contractor vaccine mandates, including but not limited to regarding E.O. 14043.
- All documents and communications between or among OPM personnel and employees of the White House, including any personnel within the Executive Office of the President, regarding any U.S. Government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, including but not limited to E.O. 14043 and the subsequent enforcement guidance memos.
- All communications, advice, and guidance OPM personnel provided to or received from medical professionals within or outside the U.S. Government prior to drafting, commenting on, editing, developing, and implementing any U.S. Government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, including but not limited to E.O. 14043 and the subsequent enforcement guidance memos.
- All communications, advice, and guidance OPM personnel provided to or received from federal employees, organizations, unions or any other entities representing federal civilian employees regarding any U.S. Government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, including but not limited to E.O. 14043 and the subsequent enforcement guidance memos.
- All drafts and versions of any U.S. Government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, including but not limited to E.O. 14043 and the subsequent enforcement guidance memos.
- All documents and communications regarding implementing, modifying, clarifying, or rescinding any U.S. Government COVID-19 vaccination mandate, including but not limited to E.O. 14043 and the subsequent enforcement guidance memos.
- The number of federal employees who requested an exemption to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination and the number of granted exemption requests.
- The number of federal employees who were terminated or received disciplinary or adverse administrative action due to not receiving the vaccine after the mandate was implemented.
Federal Employee Vaccine Mandate
President Biden issued an Executive Order in 2021 which mandated that federal employees get the COVID vaccination or face being fired. In the EO, the president wrote:
I have determined that to promote the health and safety of the Federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service, it is necessary to require COVID-19 vaccination for all Federal employees, subject to such exceptions as required by law.
Each agency shall implement, to the extent consistent with applicable law, a program to require COVID-19 vaccination for all of its Federal employees, with exceptions only as required by law.
Federal employees were given 75 days to get the vaccine.
COVID Vaccine Mandate Controversy and Legal Battles
The vaccine mandate immediately sparked controversy and led to numerous legal battles after it was announced.
Despite the injunction, the Biden administration continued to fight in court for its vaccine mandate. It even looked like the case could end up before the Supreme Court. The Biden administration did win some legal battles in court when the vaccine mandate was upheld by a couple of appeals courts.
Shortly after the federal employee vaccine mandate was announced, it was revealed that numerous federal agencies were building databases to compile the names and religious information of federal employees who were seeking exemptions from the vaccine requirement on religious grounds. One aspect of the COVID vaccine mandate was that federal employees could opt out by filing for an exemption based on their religious beliefs.
After this news broke, it led to an outcry from some Members of Congress who introduced bills in an effort to stop the government from tracking federal employees’ personal religious information.
The federal employee vaccine mandate was repealed in May 2023 in conjunction with President Biden formally ending the COVID-19 emergency declaration.