WASHINGTON – At least 20 members of the House of Representatives called on Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’ attending physician, to consider vaccine requirements against COVID-19 for members of Congress and U.S. Capitol complex employees as cases begin to surge across the country because of the highly infectious delta variant.
The group, all Democrats and led by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., sent a letter to Monahan on Wednesday, asking him to either require that lawmakers and congressional staff receive vaccines or adhere to getting tested for the coronavirus twice a week.
“We know that your recommendations regarding the health and safety of the U.S. Capitol are free from partisan calculations and grounded in science, which is why we ask you to follow the science and require vaccination,” the lawmakers said in their letter to Monahan.
The letter comes after backlash from House Republicans when that chamber reinstated its mask mandate after the Office of the Attending Physician released new guidance requiring members and their staff to wear masks in “indoor spaces” again.
Monahan reinstated masks in the House on July 27, just hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged all Americans – even the fully vaccinated – to wear masks indoors, especially in areas of high virus transmission.
To forgo "the common-sense decision to require vaccination or frequent testing in the halls of Congress due to partisan pressure would call into question the objectivity of how we make health and safety decisions for this institution – and risk Members bringing a deadly virus back to their district,” the letter said.
The lawmakers’ request also comes just days after President Joe Biden required all federal workers to be vaccinated against the virus or comply with strict new rules including mandatory masking, weekly testing and social distancing as a way to encourage vaccinations among federal employees.
USA TODAY has reached out to Monahan.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Lawmakers call for COVID-19 vaccine requirement on Capitol Hill