WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republican Whip and Ranking Member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis Steve Scalise’s (R-La.) opening statement at today’s Select Subcommittee’s hearing warned that President Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate, that would affect an estimated 100 million people, may cause workforce shortages across the country. He pointed out that many police officers, nurses, first responders, and other frontline workers are opposed to vaccine mandates and may lose their jobs as a result. Whip Scalise called on Democrat Whip and Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis James Clyburn (D-S.C.) to hold a hearing about the negative consequences and public health implications of President Biden’s counterproductive vaccine mandates.
Remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
“I want to welcome all our witnesses today, but especially Dr. Kanter from the Louisiana Department of Health.
“Louisiana has endured three brutal COVID waves and unfortunately, we were one of the first states to really feel the crush of the Delta variant. But there are several things Louisiana has done well, particularly with getting kids back in school. We were one of the first states to reopen schools for in-person learning. I’m proud of that and hope it can serve as a model for other states.
“It’s important that we hear from local and state public health officials about their experiences and ways the federal government could do a better job of confronting this latest outbreak. We have a lot of work to do, not only to overcome this pandemic but to better prepare for others that might come.
“That’s why it is so hard to understand why the majority has not used the authority provided by this subcommittee to perform oversight into areas like the nursing home debacle in New York. Former Governor Cuomo’s “must admit” order, against the recommendation of the CDC, led to thousands of deaths. He then engaged in a cover-up of massive proportions and yet, this subcommittee never held a hearing to uncover the truth that Governor Cuomo hid from his thousands of victims and their families.
“On top of that, this subcommittee has ignored the question of where the coronavirus came from, to begin with. And the Democrat majority doesn’t want to investigate whether the U.S.-funded research at the Wuhan lab in China that is the likely source of the virus.
“There are several big, open questions about reports that the Biden Administration interfered with the FDA. Political interference that I would argue has created serious confusion on vaccine booster shots. I know most people would agree that the public health messaging from the Biden Administration has been disastrously unclear. These are clearly public health mistakes that we should investigate, but the majority refuses to do so.
“I am very concerned with the path the Biden Administration has taken to politize the pandemic and shame and bully Americans that don’t think exactly like they do.
“The vaccines are excellent. But vaccines aren’t enough. The fact that 2,000 people are dying each day should be enough proof of that.
“I don’t think vaccine mandates are the best way to accomplish our shared goal of ending this pandemic. And I’m very concerned about what mandates might do to undermine staffing levels in hospitals and for health care and other frontline workers that already facing burnout and staffing challenges.
“We’re already seeing the negative effect mandates are having in states that have imposed their own. Dozens of state troopers are now quitting in Massachusetts. About 90 percent of San Diego police officers surveyed said they oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandates, and 65 percent of them said they would consider quitting the force if the city were to impose a requirement.
“In New York State, hospitals and nursing homes are bracing for mass staffing shortages that have been sparked by the state’s vaccine mandate. According to the New York Times, as of Sept. 22, state data shows, around 84 percent of New York’s 450,000 hospital workers and 83 percent of its 145,400 nursing home employees had been fully vaccinated. That means tens of thousands of people may have not gotten a shot by the September 27th deadline in New York—risking their jobs.
“One hospital, the Lewis County General Hospital in Lowville, New York, has announced that it is pausing maternity services because dozens of staff members quit rather than get COVID-19 vaccines. The hospital is “unable to safely staff” its maternity department and newborn nursery. Other departments in the hospital are at risk as well if more workers don’t want to get vaccinated and end up terminated.
“A hospital system in North Carolina announced yesterday that about 175 employees were terminated because they didn’t comply with the hospital’s mandate.
“I’m afraid that this is what will happen across the country when the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate on health care workers and employers goes into effect.
“Mr. Chairman, this committee should hold a hearing into the real-world implications that a big government mandate will have on our nation’s hospitals, health care workers, and first responders.
“Unfortunately, I’m not sure the Biden Administration cares about the negative consequences or public health implications of their counterproductive mandates.
“Their plan appears to be to shame and bully millions of Americans into submission. Last week, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, referred to people who are hesitant about the vaccines as “flat earthers”. That attitude is irresponsibly tone-deaf.
“We should be encouraging people to get vaccinated. We want more Americans to make their own decision to get vaccinated. We should be encouraging people who are hesitant to get the facts and talk to their doctor. Trying to shame and bully people for their personal medical decisions is disgraceful and it needs to stop. If you want to get vaccinated, it is safe, effective, free, and available.
“I believe one way to give people more confidence and more of a feeling of control over their own decisions is to let them know this is their decision. So, let’s give folks who are hesitant the reassurance they are not going to be forced by the federal government to do something against their will.
“Vaccines are not the only answer. Millions of Americans have contracted COVID and have the antibodies. Testing should be easy to use and widely available. And we should encourage the FDA to continue to work on finding therapeutics to treat COVID. Maybe that isn’t happening as fast because President Biden has still failed 9 months into his presidency to appoint a head of the FDA.
“We need a multipronged approach to fight back against the coronavirus—not a one-size-fits-all solution that is forced on millions of Americans.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.”