GOP freshman skipping White House reception over vaccine rules, as KJP insists ‘COVID isn’t over’

GOP Rep. Nick LaLota says he’s skipping White House reception for new members over vaccine and testing requirements as Karine Jean-Pierre insists ‘COVID isn’t over’

  • GOP Rep. Nick LaLota said Tuesday he was skipping a White House reception that night for freshmen lawmakers over the administration’s COVID rules 
  • Attendees were asked to sign an attestation form saying they’re vaccinated against COVID and instructed to take a test within 24 hours of the event
  • The unvaccinated were asked to wear a mask  
  • Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to LaLota’s snub at Tuesday’s briefing by saying ‘COVID isn’t over’  

Republican Rep. Nick LaLota said he’s skipping Tuesday night’s White House reception for new members of Congress due to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 rules – with several other GOP freshmen following suit. 

‘Out of protest, I will not be attending President Biden’s gathering of Freshman House Members at the White House this week,’ the newly sworn-in New Yorker said in a statement Tuesday. ‘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four months ago the President told 60 Minutes that the pandemic is over, the White House is today enforcing arbitrary, outdated and unscientific pandemic protocols upon Members of Congress who accepted the President’s invitation to meet him at the White House.’ 

Members attending the gathering were asked to sign an attestation form saying they’re vaccinated against COVID and instructed to take a test within 24 hours of the event. Unvaccinated guests were asked to stay masked. 

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she hadn’t seen LaLota’s comments but told reporters at the Tuesday briefing that keeping COVID protocols in place were to ‘protect staff and the president of the United States.’  

‘COVID isn’t over,’ she warned. ‘We’ve been very clear about that. Hundreds of Americans are dying every day and cases are increasing right now. Today.’

Republican Rep. Nick LaLota said he's skipping Tuesday night's White House reception for new members of Congress due to the Biden administration's COVID-19 rules

Republican Rep. Nick LaLota said he’s skipping Tuesday night’s White House reception for new members of Congress due to the Biden administration’s COVID-19 rules

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the vaccine, testing and masking rules are still in place because 'COVID isn't over'

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the vaccine, testing and masking rules are still in place because ‘COVID isn’t over’ 

‘That’s why we take common sense measures, like COVID testing ahead of large indoor gatherings at the White House,’ she added.  

LaLota and other Republican members pointed to comments Biden made back in September when he said during a 60 Minutes interview that the ‘pandemic is over.’ 

The White House was forced to walk that statement back, with Jean-Pierre explaining in a subsequent interview that the president meant that the pandemic is ‘more manageable.’ 

‘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,’ LaLota argued.  

Jean-Pierre said that White House kept the vaccination policy in place because experts continued to recommend it. 

‘We listen to the experts, and we look at the data, and we pay very close attention to science,’ she said. ‘That is something that our experts, we take their advice when it comes to things like that. 

A handful of other freshmen Republicans followed LaLota’s snub by pointing to the White House’s COVID rules. 

LaLota also sent out a tweet explaining why he wouldn't be attending Tuesday night's reception for new lawmakers at the White House

LaLota also sent out a tweet explaining why he wouldn’t be attending Tuesday night’s reception for new lawmakers at the White House 

‘Rep. Luna will not be attending. Even the CDC has recognized that COVID is no longer a pandemic,’ a spokesman for Rep. Anna Paulina Luna told Axios

Rep. Mike Collins ‘has moved on from the pandemic and doesn’t plan on attending anything that still requires testing,’ his spokesman told the news site. 

Rep. Wesley Hunt tweeted that ‘President Biden declared on national television that the pandemic was over.’ 

‘However, the White House is requiring a negative COVID test to attend tonight’s taxpayer funded soirĂ©e. I politely decline,’ Hunt said. 

Fellow New York Republican, Rep. George Santos, who has been involved in a scandal over lying about his biography, also said he wouldn’t be attending the fete, though didn’t say if COVID restrictions played a part in that decision. 

LaLota took the place of GOP Rep. Lee Zeldin, who left Congress to run for New York governor.  

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