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H.R. 4749: Don’t Knock on My Door Act of 2021


Presumably the bill’s sponsors also dislike the Bruno Mars song ‘Leave the Door Open.’

Context

In a July speech at the White House, President Joe Biden caused controversy with a remark implying that the push for COVID-19 vaccinations would shift to more of a door to door approach.

“We are continuing to wind down the mass vaccination sites,” Biden said. “Now we need to go to community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood, and oftentimes, door to door — literally knocking on doors — to get help to the remaining people protected from the virus.”

Biden portrayed this as a way to reach people where they already were. “So, as we shift from these centralized mass vaccination sites, where we were doing thousands of people a day, we’re going to put even more emphasis on getting vaccinated in your community, close to home, conveniently at a location you’re already familiar with.”

This did not go over well with some Republicans.

What the bill does

The Don’t Knock on My Door Act would ban any federal taxpayer dollars from being used for a COVID-19 vaccine door to door outreach campaign, or for a nongovernmental third party to do such a campaign either.

It was introduced in the House on July 28 as H.R. 4749, by Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC11).

What supporters say

Supporters argue that the idea of a door to door vaccination push represents a slippery slope for other government interventions towards the mass public.

“Now they’re starting to talk about going door to door, to be able to take vaccines to the people. The thing about the mechanisms they would have to build to be able to actually execute that massive of a thing, and then think about what those mechanisms could be used for,” Rep. Cawthorn told Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN). “They could then go door to door to take your guns. They could then go door to door to take your Bibles.”

Rep. Cawthorn has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, putting him in line with 46 percent of House Republicans. Cawthorn is “probably never going to take it,” he told North Carolina’s Spectrum News 1. “I don’t think the death rate’s there for my age group.”

Cawthorn is 26. It’s true that only 0.7 percent of U.S. deaths from COVID-19 have been people under age 30, versus that age group representing 4.8 percent of deaths from all causes. However, the death rate isn’t the only consideration for getting the vaccination, since a younger person can contract the virus, most likely survive, and still spread it to somebody else (if not multiple people) who could die.

What opponents say

Opponents counter that the push is not an authoritarian overreach by big government, and besides, the vaccines aren’t even mandated anyway.

“This is not federal employees going door to door,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki clarified at a press briefing three days after Biden’s original comment. “This is grassroots volunteers, this is members of the clergy, these are volunteers who believe that people across the country, especially in low-vaccinated areas, should have accurate information, should have information about where they can get vaccinated, where they can save their own lives and their neighbors’ lives and their family members’ lives.”

“It’s something that’s been going on since April,” Psaki added. “And it’s something where we’ve seen an impact in states where there are lower vaccination rates. So it is something we will continue to — to work with local groups to do.”

(Actually, door-to-door vaccination pushes have occurred even earlier than April, in February and March.)

Odds of passage

The bill has attracted four cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Odds of passage are low in the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Last updated Sep 7, 2021. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jul 28, 2021.


Don't Knock on My Door Act of 2021

This bill prohibits the use of federal funds for door-to-door outreach activities related to COVID-19 vaccines.