June 10, 2021

Cassidy Statement on Lifting of COVID Workplace Restrictions for Federal Agencies

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) today released a statement following guidance from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that repealed limits on the number of employees allowed in the workplace. This replaces the previous 25 percent cap on capacity inside federal offices during the pandemic.

“This is long overdue. The science knows it, the CDC knows it, and Americans know it. It’s high time federal employees got back to work and serve the American people,” said Dr. Cassidy.

This announcement comes hours after Cassidy pressed Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra why the Department is still at 25 percent capacity when DC, Loudon County, and Prince’s George County have a positive test rate of about one percent – significantly below the workplace safety plan threshold of significant or high community transmission. During a Senate Finance Committee Hearing on the Presidents Fiscal Year 2022 HHS budget, he also asked when HHS would release new recommendations and follow the science and guidance from CDC, one of their own agencies. Secretary Becerra defended the restrictions on workplace capacity despite noting falling infection rates and increasing vaccination rates across the country.

“Mr. Secretary, it is my understanding that HHS is working at 25 percent capacity – limited capacity. I keep thinking about the folks back home paying our salaries and they’re going to wonder if CDC says we can go back to work, why isn’t HHS back to work?” said Dr. Cassidy.

Last month, Cassidy demanded federal bureaucrats to return to work highlighting a Louisiana veteran’s year-long struggle to receive medical attention during a speech on the Senate floor.

“I rise today in incredible frustration. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had federal agencies and employees not working for a year.

“In April, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing entitled, ‘The Social Security Administration During COVID: How the Pandemic Hampered Access to Benefits and Strategies for Improving Service Delivery.’

“Following the hearing, and in response to my concerns that seniors in my state with issues getting their social security benefits are not being sufficiently served due to field and local offices being closed, my office got a letter from Commissioner Andrew Saul. The letter states ‘I urge you to encourage the unions to continue engaging in meaningful dialogue with management that includes a focus on the very best service to the public.’ This is a nice way of saying we need your help to get the union to the table so we can get federal employees back to work.

“We are talking about mandatory services — re-opening Social Security offices for in-person visits, in a post-vaccine world — to assist elderly Americans, your grandma and grandpa, having issues with their benefits. But this isn’t happening because government employees won’t show up to work.”

Earlier in June, Cassidy and eight of his colleagues sent a letter demanding President Biden immediately reopen all federal offices and facilities, and require federal employees to return to the office to better serve the American people.