- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2022

The Senate passed a resolution Tuesday to repeal mask mandates on public transportation after Sen. Rand Paul forced it to a vote.

The nonbinding resolution passed 57-40, with 8 Democrats joining 49 Republicans in voting yes. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah cast the sole GOP no vote.

The resolution was brought to the floor under the Congressional Review Act that required a simple majority to pass the Senate instead of having to clear the 60-vote bar required for most legislation to survive in the upper chamber.

“Today, the Senate said enough is enough and sent a message to unelected government bureaucrats to stop the anti-science, nanny state requirement of travel mask mandates,” Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, said in a statement.  “Since March 2020, unelected bureaucrats have incessantly declared that we should ‘follow the science.’ But the same bureaucrats continue to defy science by imposing an ineffective and restrictive mask mandate for individuals traveling on public transit and airplanes.”

He added, “As the entire world is learning to live with COVID, the federal government still uses fear-mongering to stubbornly perpetuate its mandates, rather than giving clear-eyed, rational advice on how to best protect yourself from illness. That is why, I forced this vote, and I applaud the Senate for rejecting this nonsense.”

Sen. Jon Ossoff, Georgia Democrat, told The Washington Times that he voted against the resolution because he sees it as a public health issue that requires a robust policy response from public health officials.

“Frequent communication with US public health authorities and transportation authorities on what they believe is necessary to ensure that the unnecessary transmission of this virus in transportation, infrastructure and transportation facilities,” he said.

The resolution will now go to the House where a companion bill authored by Rep. Dan Bishop, North Carolina Republican, was introduced last month. The Bishop bill never made it to the floor and it is doubtful House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will allow a vote on the Paul resolution. 

Despite its Senate passage, the White House has made it clear that President Biden will veto the resolution if Congress manages to pass it.

“Public transportation and transportation hubs are places where people across communities congregate, often for extended periods and in close quarters,” White House said in a statement. “The determination of the timeline and circumstances under which masks should be required in these settings should be guided by science, not politics. If Congress were to pass this resolution, the President would veto it.”

Just days ago, the Transportation Security Administration announced that mask mandates on public transportation set to expire March 18 would be extended until April 18.

House Republicans also recently sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to force the mandate of face masks to be worn on airplanes to end.

Mr. Paul, who is an opthalmologist, joined the lawsuit against the CDC. He also previously introduced the Travel Mask Mandate Repeal Act of 2021.

• Kerry Picket can be reached at kpicket@washingtontimes.com.

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