Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has implemented a series of restrictions aimed at limiting its spread on Capitol Hill.
In a rare show of restraint, however, she recently acknowledged that she cannot force lawmakers to receive a vaccine against the virus.
“We can’t do that”
Notably, Pelosi went on to assert that she does not believe the American people should be required to get a shot.
“We can’t require vaccinations for the members, much less for the American people,” she said during a press briefing on Thursday, according to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
As more Americans sign up to receive an inoculation, some businesses and universities have begun discussing the possibility of requiring individuals to provide proof of vaccination. For her part, however, Pelosi is publicly recognizing that citizens have the right to receive or decline such treatment.
“I can’t go to the Capitol physician and say give me 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,” she explained. “So we can’t do that.”
As for the estimated one in four legislators who have not yet gotten the shot, Pelosi said that she hopes “science” would “guide” them toward making the decision to receive it. Although she said she does not know which representatives are in that group, she assumed most are Republicans.
“Not contributing to the spread of COVID”
Reports indicate GOP voters are more reluctant to get shots, and the speaker said it would “help a lot” if members of the party stress the importance of the vaccine to those around them.
Of course, some critics say it is the behavior of prominent Democrats — including President Joe Biden — that has fueled hesitancy toward receiving a vaccine.
The president wore a face mask outside during a speech on Tuesday even as he touted new medical guidelines declaring that fully vaccinated people no longer need to do so. He also wore a mask during his address of a joint session of Congress the following evening, which was attended by a sparse but also masked audience.
Pelosi was asked whether such a spectacle sent the wrong message, she insisted that “science demands” strict mitigation measures.
“The Capitol physician insisted that social distancing, that mask-wearing were necessary so that we’re not contributing to the spread of COVID, especially with the president of the United States there,” she said.