WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-18) led a letter signed by 41 Congressional Republicans to Secretary of Commerce Raimondo, demanding answers about lingering COVID-19 mandates in effect at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) sites.
“Months after Biden acknowledged the end of the pandemic and both the White House and Congress acted to end the COVID emergencies, his administration still harasses Americans with unconstitutional COVID mandates,” Rep. Franklin said. “It’s clear to me Washington liberals who viewed the pandemic as cover to grow the size and scope of the federal bureaucracy have slow rolled returning to normal after the pandemic. Americans are operating business as usual—they expect their government to as well. It’s time the Department of Commerce and NOAA end this overreach, and I thank my colleagues who joined me to demand accountability for this unacceptable abuse of power.”
The Department of Commerce’s own “Workplace Safety” policy forbids pressuring employees or visitors to disclose their vaccine status or other COVID-related information. However, COVID mandates at NOAA facilities including the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) remain in place. OMAO Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) currently requires individuals fill out a “Visitor Clearance form” which inquires about individuals’ vaccination status and physical symptoms.
In electronic correspondence, NOAA personnel informed congressional staff that “[guests] must attest to their vaccination status and be pre-cleared by filling out this form... in accordance with OMAO COVID requirements,” as recent as July 2023. These requirements are inconsistent with the federal government’s posture regarding coronavirus management.
The letter requests the answers to the following questions no later than August 31, 2023:
1. Why is NOAA requiring visitors and guests to report their coronavirus vaccination status after the end of the emergency declaration?
2. How long does the Department and its agencies, plan to screen visitors based on their coronavirus vaccination status?
3. Are Department employees also required to disclose their vaccination status with E.O. 14099 in effect?
a. If so, what is the procedure for employees who refuse to comply?
4. Did the OMAO consult with the DOC COVID-19 Coordination Team and the Office of the General Counsel before implementing any onsite contractor or visitor COVID-19 screening testing requirements?