On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that he is mandating COVID vaccines for the entire federal workforce and federal contractors and requiring large employers to ensure their employees are either vaccinated or tested weekly – but, in April, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declared that “We cannot require someone to be vaccinated.”
“Why not consider something like requiring that everyone be fully vaccinated?” a reporter asked Pelosi at an April 29, 2021 press conference, to which Pelosi repeatedly replied that vaccinations cannot be mandated:
“So, here’s the thing: we cannot require someone to be vaccinated. That's just not what we can do.”
“So, if we could, but we can't require vaccinations for the Members - much less for the American people. Some people want to say, ‘Don't come into my store unless you're vaccinated, this or that.’ It causes commotion.”
What’s more, the government cannot even keep track of who is – and who isn’t – vaccinated, Pelosi said:
“It is a matter of privacy to know who is or who isn't.
“I can't go to the Capitol Physician and say, ‘Give me the names of people who aren't vaccinated, so I can go encourage them or make it known to others to encourage them to be vaccinated.’ So we can't – we can't do that.”
The full transcript of the reporter’s question and Pelosi’s answer is presented below:
Reporter: “You covered a lot of topics this morning on CBS. I want to ask you about something that didn't come up about the House itself. Roughly – two questions – roughly, what percentage of the House do you think is fully vaccinated right now?
“And then second, there has been some pushback – let me take my mask off. There's been some pushback from both the right and the left about requiring social distancing and fully masked participants last night.
“Why not consider something like requiring that everyone be fully vaccinated? Why require masks at a time when public health officials want the message to be about vaccination?”
Speaker Pelosi: “Well, public health officials still encourage wearing masks indoors, but your question is an excellent one that should be made to every Member of Congress.
“We are guided by the Capitol Attending Physician and the Sergeant-At-Arms, but the science demands how we can – why we have masks on still.
“With more, as you rightly point out, with more vaccinations, we should be able to have a shorter period of time for voting so that we don't – if we're all vaccinated, still with a mask inside, but nonetheless. Perhaps, when we are speaking would be a time we could, as you did, take down the mask, but so far, that's not what we can do.
“So – so here is the thing. We are – we cannot require someone to be vaccinated. That's just not what we can do. It is a matter of privacy to know who is or who isn't. I can't go to the Capitol Physician and say, ‘Give me the names of people who aren't vaccinated, so I can go encourage them or make it known to others to encourage them to be vaccinated.’ So we can't – we can't do that.
“But you would hope that science would guide them to protect themselves, their family members and be good colleagues in the workplace to get vaccinated.
“And the sooner that that happens, the better for everything in terms of – because all of the requirements that we had last night were not about security, by and large – that security issue is always there when the President of the United States is present, but in terms of COVID.
“COVID had us in a room where normally 1,600 people would be gathered for the address by the President of the United States, 1,600 people to 200 – I think it was 204 people, because the Capitol Physician insisted that that social distancing, that mask wearing were necessary so that we are not contributing to the spread of COVID, especially with the President of the United States there, but also in terms of the Congress of the United States.
“So, if we could, but we can't require vaccinations for the Members, much less for the American people. Some people want to say, ‘Don't come into my store unless you're vaccinated, this or that.’ It causes commotion.”
“But we don't have too much – I mean, there are some individuals who say – and I can't even – I don't even know who they are, but if you say there are – that they don't want to social distance, and they don't want to wear a mask. But that's incidental. It's not anybody important.”