‘The Pandemic Is Over’: GOP Rep Rejects Biden’s White House Invitation Over Vaccine Policy

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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Republican New York Rep. Nick LaLota said Tuesday that he will not attend President Joe Biden’s event for freshman members of Congress due to the White House’s COVID-19 protocols.

“Even though four months ago the President told 60 Minutes that the pandemic is over, the White House is today enforcing arbitrary, outdated, and unscientific pandemic protocols upon Members of Congress who accepted the President’s invitation to meet him at the White House,” LaLota said in a statement. “The time for arbitrary and unscientific pandemic protocols should be far behind us and I am forgoing a historic trip to the White House to raise awareness of this punitive policy in hopes that President Biden will reverse it and other arbitrary, outdated, and unscientific restrictions across the federal system.”

The White House will require all attendees to be tested for COVID-19 and either attest to being vaccinated or wear a mask and social distance, LaLota added. Although COVID-19 vaccines protect against hospitalization and death, they do not completely prevent transmission of the disease. (RELATED: Pentagon Officially Repeals Military Vaccine Mandate)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi relaxed COVID-19 rules for the lower chamber ahead of the 2022 State of the Union address. She eliminated the House’s mask mandate, although she maintained proxy voting rules until the end of the 117th Congress. New Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy eliminated proxy voting as part of the 118th Congress’s rules package.

Biden claimed in September that the COVID-19 pandemic was “over,” although he added that “we’re still doing a lot of work on it.” White House officials quickly walked back his remarks and the Department of Health and Human Services kept its official public health emergency in place.

LaLota, a Navy veteran who did three combat tours, was elected in November to replace Lee Zeldin, who unsuccessfully ran for New York governor. He defeated Democrat Bridget Fleming by nearly 12 points.