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House panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport

House panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport
© Stefani Reynolds

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a measure requiring passengers and workers on major public transportation to wear masks for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know masks work. Since the Trump administration won’t act, Congress must," said Rep. David PriceDavid Eugene PriceHouse panel approves measure requiring masks on public transport Overnight Energy: 350 facilities skip reporting water pollution | Panel votes to block Trump's 'secret science' rule | Court upholds regulation boosting electric grid storage Committee votes to block Trump's 'secret science' EPA rule MORE (D-N.C.), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development.

The full committee approved the policy in an amendment sponsored by Price, which passed by voice vote.

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The amendment, Price said, would protect commuters and travelers, including front-line workers who rely on public transport.

Masks have become a key method of preventing the coronavirus from spreading, but have also become deeply politicized, though the tides have begun to shift.

In recent weeks, Republican governors such as Texas Gov. Greg Abbott who previously shunned masks and blocked local mandates have done about faces as COVID-19 cases surged in their states.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE wore one in public for the first time Saturday, during a visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

The mask amendment echoed language in the House-passed HEROES Act, the coronavirus relief bill approved in May. The Senate rejected the bill, and is engaging in negotiations with the House to find a bipartisan agreement for the next COVID-19 relief measure.

The amendment was approved as part of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill for 2021, which was expected to advance through the committee along party lines.

The House is expected to take it up as part of a package of spending bills July 23 and 24.