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FACT SHEET: The Covid Select Subcommittee Has Been Taken Over By Its Most Extreme Anti-Vax Members

Feb 14, 2024

This week, after months of demands from extremists like Majorie Taylor Greene, the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic will hold a hearing on vaccine safety where some of the leading anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists in the Republican caucus will have free rein to promote their dangerous anti-science ideas.  

The select subcommittee’s members have been promoting anti-vax conspiracy theories for years, including some members who were once lauded as “vaccine champions” but now toe the new MAGA line on vaccines.  

  • Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) is chair of the select subcommittee. Wenstrup is a physician and has a record of being generally supportive of vaccination, but his subcommittee hearings have seeded doubt and hesitancy by amplifying more extreme ant-vaccine voices and given a platform for the antics of members like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ronny Jackson. Wenstrup himself expressed some doubts about the safety and efficacy of vaccines at a May 2023 subcommittee hearing, calling mRNA vaccines “more of a therapeutic than the other vaccines have proven to be as far as prevention.” 
  • Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) is a physician who was once known as a “vaccination champion,” but Meeks has been increasingly critical of childhood vaccinations, falsely claiming that children “aren’t affected” by Covid and that they can’t transmit the illness to others. Meeks also criticized President Biden for getting a Covid booster on television in October 2022, calling it “tone deaf” for him to do so during a time of high inflation and promoted vaccine misinformation by angrily retweeting a satirical article that claimed Biden was going to withhold VA benefits for unvaccinated veterans. 
  • Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) is an anti-vaxxer who opposed vaccine passports in 2021 and contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate her personal vaccine death count conspiracy theories. Lesko has promoted anti-vaccine conspiracy theories since even before the Covid pandemic began, attacking Google and Facebook in 2019 for making it harder to find anti-vax content, calling the companies’ efforts to stop the spread of the conspiracy theories “really scary stuff.” 
  • Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) is an anti-vaxxer who dismissed COVID-19 vaccines as “experimental,” and has fought to remove legal protections for vaccine manufacturers. He joined more than two dozen Republicans in opposing vaccine mandates.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) is the most aggressive anti-vaccine conspiracy theorist on the select subcommittee. Greene has held two shadow “hearings” on supposed injuries caused by vaccines, has publicly pushed and berated committee leadership to follow her anti-vax agenda, and recently called for the select subcommittee to act to make certain vaccines illegal
    • Greene holds some of the most extreme views of anyone in Congress on the COVID-19 pandemic, and has relentlessly pursued an agenda based on misinformation about public health. She accrued more than $90,000 in fines for refusing to wear a mask on the House floor, writing on Telegram: “I’m not vaccinated either and support medical freedom for all Americans.” Further, Greene has demanded investigations to validate those conspiracies: “Covid is over. But it never should have happened. I look forward to investigating and holding accountable every single person that created this awful man made [sic] virus and killed millions of innocent people.” Greene declared that “people should go to jail” over the pandemic response and is pushing for a full investigation into her outlandish claims.
  • Former White House physician Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) is a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist who has suggested that the omicron variant was a “hoax” by Democrats. Rep. Jackson is committed to chasing baseless conspiracy theories and “exposing lies” by investigating vaccines and Dr. Anthony Fauci.
  • Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) was once protested by anti-vaccine advocates in 2019 for her vote in the state legislature to remove religious exemptions from vaccine requirements, but since arriving in Congress, Maliotakis has changed her tune and now blames vaccine mandates for the inflation and supply chain shortages experienced by Americans in 2021. 
  • Rep. Rich McCormick (R-GA), an emergency room physician, spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines throughout his campaign for Congress, including telling Newsmax TV that the then-prominent Delta variant was “blown out of proportion” and that “it just makes no sense” to “[vaccinate] people to protect other people who are unvaccinated.” McCormick has continued to be vaccine skeptical in previous hearings of the Select Subcommittee arguing that the government is “pushing” FDA-approved boosters “with no evidence and possible real harm.”