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i9 Fact Check: Iowa’s Congressional delegation and staff exempt from vaccine mandate

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 3:26 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa’s Congressional delegation will not mandate their staff be vaccinated for COVID-19, exempting them from the federal mandate President Biden announced this month.

Presidential executive orders do not apply to the legislative or judicial branches of government under the constitution. That means each branch sets its own rules for COVID-19, including vaccine mandates.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has deferred to the Attending Physician of Congress, Dr. Brian Monahan, to issue a vaccine mandate. He has not issued one but several members did send a letter last month asking him to issue one.

All of Iowa’s members of Congress are fully vaccinated and have publicized that fact and their support for vaccines. We asked each what percentage of their staff are vaccinated and if they would require their own staff get vaccinated. Here are their responses:

Sen. Chuck Grassley: Will not mandate vaccine and declined to disclose percent of staff now vaccinated.

“Senator Grassley is vaccinated, and frequently encourages others to get the vaccine, as it is the best way to quickly return to normal life. Though the constitutionality of federal vaccine mandates is in doubt, Americans should have confidence that the vaccines are safe and effective, and should consult their healthcare provider if they have any concerns about getting vaccinated. Everyone on Senator Grassley’s staff has been provided access to the vaccine as well as regular testing, and the office follows CDC guidelines and recommendations from local health authorities, including the U.S. Capitol’s attending physician” - Katelyn Schultz, Spokesperson.

Sen. Joni Ernst: Will not mandate vaccine and declined to disclose percent of staff now vaccinated.

“I’m pro-vaccine, and anti-federal vaccine mandates. Iowans should be able to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, and President Biden’s new heavy-handed federal mandates take that freedom away from Iowans. It’s beyond hypocritical, a cynical attempt to turn the page on a disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan where an unknown number of Americans remain stranded and abandoned.” - Sen. Ernst.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-1st District): Will not mandate vaccine and declined to disclose percent of staff now vaccinated.

“I’m pro-vaccine, pro-privacy, and anti-vaccine mandate. I believe the three American vaccines against COVID-19 are safe and effective. That’s why I made the decision to get vaccinated--I did so publicly to help encourage others to talk to their doctors and get fully vaccinated, and I’ll continue to do so. I trust Iowans to make the right decision for themselves and their families, and don’t believe President Biden’s vaccine mandates are constitutional.” - Rep. Hinson

Rep.Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-2nd District): Did not respond.

Rep. Cindy Axne (D-3rd District): Not mandating the vaccine because 100% of her current staff has already been vaccinated.

Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-4th District): Did not respond.

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