Kelly, Guest not among the 80 Republicans voting with Democrats on the bill.
Earlier this week, 80 Republicans in the U.S. House joined all Democrats to pass H.R. 550, the Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act.
Among those voting in favor of the bill were Mississippi Congressmen Bennie Thompson (D-MS 2) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS 4). The other two Congressmen from the Magnolia State – Congressmen Trent Kelly (R-MS 1) and Michael Guest (R-MS 3) – opposed the measure.
The total vote on the bill was 294-130.
Four House Republicans cosponsored the bill: Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), James Baird (R-IN), David McKinley (R-WV), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA).
According to the House Clerk’s summary of the bill, it directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take actions to improve data sharing and other aspects of immunization information systems. These are confidential, population-based databases that maintain a record of vaccine administrations.
The bill would require HHS to develop a strategy and plan to improve these systems, including systems supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to designate data and technology standards for use in these systems. It also would award grants to health departments and other government agencies to improve their systems.
As a condition of receiving the grants, the Clerk notes, recipients must use the designated standards in the bill. However, HHS may waive this condition in some circumstances. The bill requires HHS to report to Congress on these activities.
Critics of the bill claim that it will create a federal vaccination database, raising concerns over the government’s increased ability to track and target citizens who are not vaccinated from COVID. They say it is a means by which the Biden Administration will force compliance on the unvaccinated population.
However, Congressman Palazzo tells Y’all Politics that after a careful reading of the bill, there is no indication of a new federal database being created nor does it jeopardize a citizen’s right to privacy.
“I read through H.R. 550 thoroughly and consulted information directly from the Republican cosponsors of this bill, and NOWHERE did I find any indication that it would create a new federal database,” Congressman Palazzo said in an email response. “I have always been a strong advocate for the right to privacy and would have been the first to vote against this bill if I believed it jeopardized anyone’s confidential information.”
Palazzo adds that he is “100% AGAINST vaccine mandates” and any other effort by the federal government to force this important medical decision on voters.
“I voted for this bill to make sure funds are used to secure existing state databases and to keep all information completely confidential rather than left to be used for nefarious purposes,” the South Mississippi Congressman said.
In talking with Y’all Politics, Congressman Kelly said his reasoning for voting against the bill was simple.
“I voted against the bill because of my concerns about the expansion of federal government overreach,” Kelly said.
Y’all Politics has requested comment from Congressmen Guest and Thompson for inclusion in this article but neither was received at press time. If they are received, the article will be updated to reflect their statements.