Republican Rep.-elect Nancy Mace is complaining about limited doses, but Trump's White House just turned down 100 million.
Incoming congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-SC) said in a statement Monday that she will not be receiving the COVID vaccine offered to members of Congress.
"Congress shouldn't be putting themselves first in line for the COVID-19 vaccination when the average American can't get it," Mace wrote in the statement. "For as long as the vaccines are limited, we should prioritize healthcare and frontline workers, and every person at greater risk, especially the elderly."
But Mace's remarks misrepresent the underlying reason behind the COVID vaccine's current rollout plan.
Members of Congress are prioritized to receive the vaccine because of existing protocols surrounding continuity of government. According to Roll Call, a 2016 presidential directive issued by Barack Obama, Presidential Policy Directive 40 instructs that the ability of "executive departments and agencies" to perform their essential functions must be protected. This directive was reaffirmed in a Dec. 7 executive order by Donald Trump.
The directive stipulates that government bodies — such as Congress — must implement every possible strategy to ensure they can continue to perform daily operations in the event of a disaster.
In a statement Dec. 13, John Ullyot, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, also pointed to the directive as the reason government officials would be among the vaccine's first recipients.
“Senior officials across all three branches of government will receive vaccinations pursuant to continuity of government protocols established in executive policy,” he wrote. “The American people should have confidence that they are receiving the same safe and effective vaccine as senior officials of the United States government on the advice of public health professionals and national security leadership.”
Contrary to Mace's claims, these doses are allocated specifically to government officials and lawmakers. There's no guarantee that a vaccine dose, if refused, would be given to someone else in need.
In a Twitter thread on Sunday after she publicly received the vaccine, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) confirmed that it was the National Security Council who decided members of Congress should be vaccinated "in compliance with Presidential Policy Directive-40."
"If it was within [individual] power to 'give' the vaccine to someone else, I would!" the congresswoman tweeted. "But according to these protocols, there's a chance it could have just been stored. There's also a real risk in this age of misinfo of how it would be weaponized if leaders refused to take it en masse."
Rep.-elect Mace, in stating her reasons behind not receiving the vaccine, also expressed concerns about its limited doses. Mace said that she had been diagnosed with coronavirus herself earlier in the year.
"I've had COVID already, and can attest, it is a serious illness," she wrote. "I want to make sure others don't get it, especially those who are most vulnerable. I'll wait my turn in line with the rest of my constituents when the vaccine becomes available to the rest of us."
But blame for that rests at least in part on the shoulders of the Trump administration. According to numerous outlets, the White House turned down the opportunity to buy 100 million extra doses for 2021's second quarter, potentially leaving Americans in most need of the vaccine high and dry until June 2021.
And, according to The Hill, The White House could invoke the Defense Production Act to produce a billion more doses of the vaccine — and hasn't.
The act could also have been used to produce more testing supplies and personal protective equipment, the outlet notes.
Instead, the Trump administration has invoked it some 300,000 times in the past year — mostly in support of defense contracts rather than coronavirus relief.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.