Congress Helps Itself to Vaccine Doses as Americans Wait

Our supposed representatives in Washington just gave their aides and themselves a literal lifeline, and the rest of us, the people, a raised middle finger. CDC guidelines don’t allow the aides arrayed behind Sen. Mitch McConnell when he comes to the floor — the one who carries his statement denying more than $600 in relief to out-of-work American takers, another who revives the deduction for the makers’ three-martini lunches, and the rest of them — to jump the vaccine line. But Monday, magically, the attending physician of Congress, Brian Monahan, made up a provision letting them do just that.

His plan sets aside vaccines for two staffers in each House office (plus four more for each committee chair and ranking member) and five for each Senate office. He didn’t define what makes those 1,200 or so staffers critical to the “continuity of government,” so it’s a loophole broad enough that the aide who suffers from asthma can be bypassed in favor of the one who has the most facetime with the boss. Do Congressional staffers work harder, or are they more exposed, than the workers who clean the offices and serve the Senate bean soup or that millions of other who don’t work on Capitol Hill? No one would inoculate just 10 percent of residents at a nursing home.

It’s ridiculous when you think of it, and obscene. Front line workers aren’t done being inoculated. The Republicans who claimed Obamacare was built around “death panels” are putting themselves and their staffs at the front of the vaccine line. The Democrats who say health care is a universal right are putting themselves first. It’s not like there’s enough to go around. The CDC might have something to say if it weren’t trying without leadership from the top to actually deliver the vaccine. The latest CDC figures show 11,445,175 doses distributed, hardly half of the 20 million that had been promised, and just 2,127,145 administered. If only the president were still alive.