Senate Republicans urge CDC to lift public transportation mask mandate
A group of GOP lawmakers led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Friday introduced a resolution formally calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to lift its mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals on public transportation.
Cruz, along with Republican Sens. Susan Collins (Maine), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Roger Wicker (Miss.), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), argued that the CDC’s guidance that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most settings should also apply when traveling on commercial planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transit.
President Biden on his first full day in office signed an executive order directing federal agencies to “immediately take action” to require masks on public transportation.
While the federal mask mandate was initially set to expire May 11, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has since extended it to Sept. 13.
However, Cruz and his colleagues said in their resolution Friday that “science shows that individuals fully vaccinated against COVID–19 are protected against asymptomatic infection, and thus very unlikely to spread the disease,” adding that Americans “have sacrificed immensely” throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release announcing the resolution, Cruz said, “It’s long past time for President Biden and the CDC to follow the science and end this mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals.
“Americans should be able to travel to celebrate Independence Day with their friends and loved ones without having to follow an outdated and unnecessary mandate,” he added.
Collins in a statement included in the release said she had spoken with flight attendants who had expressed fears on enforcing the federal mask mandate amid multiple viral incidents showing passengers attacking or threatening workers over the safety restrictions.
“It makes no sense that someone can go to a restaurant without wearing a mask, but they cannot fly on an airplane without one even though it has a far better ventilation system,” Collins argued.
The resolution comes just days after Democrats blocked a bill from Senate Republicans that would have revoked Biden’s mask requirement on public transit.
GOP Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.) and Mike Lee (Utah), who had introduced the bill, cited the nation’s vaccination rates in arguing against the need for a face mask requirement.
However, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said when blocking the bill, “This virus is still spreading, it is still mutating, it is still costing lives, and it is still leaving survivors with long-haul symptoms.”
“We cannot pretend this pandemic is over,” she added.