Top Republicans Request More Information on Federal Employee Vaccine Mandate
They wrote to three agencies with concerns about the mandate, including that it might contribute to attrition that would make it difficult for agencies to fulfill their missions.
Top House Republicans pressed the Biden administration on Wednesday for more information about the vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors.
Reps. James Comer, R-Ky., ranking member of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Jody Hice, R-Ga., ranking member of the committee’s panel on government operations, sent a letter––shared with Government Executive exclusively ahead of publication––to the top officials at the Office of Personnel Management, Office of Management and Budget, and General Services Administration asking for further information about the vaccine mandate. They said there are lingering questions following the staff-level briefing they received on October 7.
“OPM, OMB, and GSA believe there will be minimal employee attrition due to these mandates. They did not, however, substantiate the reasons for this belief,” wrote Comer and Hice. “If they are wrong about attrition from either category of employees, they risk significant disruption of agency missions, major adverse consequences for workers, families and businesses, and the breach of an untold number of federal contracts.” They added it's “troubling” that the Biden administration is allowing so few exemptions and said the mandate is “authoritarian and extreme,” as well as “infringe(s) upon American freedoms.”
By November 10 they would like various information from January 20, 2021 to the present, unless indicated otherwise. This includes: how many federal employees are vaccinated at each agency and the number of current federal-contractor and federal-subcontractor employees vaccinated.
They would also like all documents and communications related to: employee terminations or disciplinary action based on vaccination statues; challenges in employee attrition (such as in law enforcement); how the agencies are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to treat COVID-19 immunity as a substitute for vaccines; any third-party providers to store vaccine information; telework requirements for those subject to the mandate; alternatives to the mandate; analysis of the legality off the mandate; and more.
The deadline for most federal employees to get vaccinated, unless they are granted an exemption, is November 22. However, some employees at the Health and Human Services and Veterans Affairs departments had earlier mandates and thus earlier deadlines. VA has already started disciplining employees who have yet to prove they are vaccinated.
For covered employees of federal contractors, the deadline is December 8. “After that, all covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day of the period of performance on a newly awarded covered contract, and by the first day of the period of performance on a exercised option or extended or renewed contract when the clause has been incorporated into the covered contract,” said the Biden administration's Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
Government Executive recently reported on how groups of employees at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, NASA and the Defense Department oppose the vaccine mandate and some are considering leaving as a result.