Despite COVID-19 mask mandates now largely a thing of the past, the federal government continues to require that face masks be worn on public transportation such as airplanes, buses, and trains.
That could soon change, though, if a group of House Republicans, led by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), are able to pass into law a bill called the Travel Mask Mandate Repeal Act of 2021, Breitbart reported.
The House bill was filed Friday as companion legislation to a similar bill filed in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that, if passed, would compel federal agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Transporation Security Administration (TSA) to drop the mask mandates on public transportation.
Fox News, which was the first to report on the newly filed bill, reported that Biggs was joined in sponsoring the legislation by Reps. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Lance Gooden (R-TX), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Chip Roy (R-TX), and Randy Weber (R-TX).
“No scientific evidence”
“There is no scientific evidence for the continuation of mask mandates on public transportation,” Rep. Biggs said in a press release announcing the new bill.
“Bottom line, mask mandates are old news, and are only being kept in place by those who relish controlling our day-to-day lives,” the congressman added. “The viral spread is collapsing and our normal lives are returning. It’s time for the CDC to follow the science and end the tyrannical COVID-19 restrictions once and for all.”
Sen. Paul said in a statement: “The federal government forcing the American people to continue to wear masks despite the fact that we’ve already reached herd immunity is ridiculous and needs to end immediately.”
“I am introducing the Travel Mask Mandate Repeal Act of 2021 to put a stop to this nanny state mandate of requiring masks on public transportation,” Paul added. “In a free country people will evaluate their personal risk factors and are smart enough to ultimately make medical decisions like wearing a mask themselves.”
In the Senate, Sen. Paul was joined in the effort by Sens. Mike Braun (R-IN), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
CDC and TSA require masks
Notably, while the CDC had announced in May that fully vaccinated individuals no longer needed to wear masks either indoors or out, it nevertheless still strongly advised that masks be worn in particularly crowded indoor settings, such as public transportation.
Concurrent with that, the TSA, in April, which had first imposed a mask mandate for all public transportation on Feb. 1 — enforced with civil fines ranging from $250 to $1,500 — had extended the requirement until at least Sept. 13, when the mandate had initially been set to expire on May 1.
Meanwhile, as Republicans in Congress work to roll back the remaining vestiges of mask mandates at the federal level, some Democrat-controlled jurisdictions — such as Los Angeles County in California — are reimposing previously lifted mask mandates out of concern over the “Delta” variant of COVID-19 that has swept the nation and caused spikes in case numbers.