Rep. Andy Biggs, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, shared his legislation first with Fox News that serves as the House companion bill to Sen. Rand Paul’s mask mandate legislation in the Senate.
“There is no scientific evidence for the continuation of mask mandates on public transportation,” Biggs, R-Ariz., told Fox News in a statement. “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 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.”
While states and businesses have largely loosened their mask mandates in recent weeks because of the widespread availability of vaccinations and reduction in coronavirus cases compared to the peak of the pandemic, one major exception has been public transportation. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended its mask mandate through Sept. 13 that covers airports, commercial aircraft, over-the-road buses, and commuter bus and rail systems.
The GOP legislation would ban any federal agency from imposing any COVID-19 mask requirement aboard public transportation or at any transportation hub.
In addition to Biggs, the bill is sponsored by GOP Reps. Randy Weber of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Tom McClintock of California, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Bob Gibbs of Ohio, Lance Gooden of Texas and Chip Roy of Texas.
“It’s time to recognize the never-ending government mask requirements as the political theater they are,” Roy said in a statement. “Americans are capable of making their own decisions; it’s time to choose freedom over fear.”
The lawmakers say the mask requirements don’t take into account the science and effectiveness of the vaccines.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on masks and face coverings in May stated that fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance.
A sign reading "Masks required in this area" is seen as travelers prepare to check in for their Delta Airlines flight at the Miami International Airport on Feb. 1, 2021, in Miami, Fla. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
However, the CDC said at the time that fully vaccinated individuals were still advised to wear masks while in crowded indoor settings, such as while riding public transportation and in hospitals, prisons and homeless shelters.
“The science has made clear how effective the vaccines are and we are reaching the point at which those choosing to remain unvaccinated have taken on that risk to themselves, not to anyone else,” Gibbs said. “We cannot only ‘follow the science’ when it is politically convenient and ignore it, like we are now, when it no longer conforms to bureaucrats’ desire for power.”
Paul, R-Ky., already introduced similar legislation in the Senate. His Travel Mask Mandate Repeal Act of 2021 is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Paul says the “nanny state mandate” must stop.
“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,” Paul said in a statement.
The demands for mask loosening come at the more contagious Delta strain has become the most dominant variant in the United States and contributed to an uptick in coronavirus cases. Meanwhile, the pace for vaccinations has slowed in the United States, which has worried public health officials.
On Thursday, Los Angeles County announced it’s reviving a requirement that masks be worn indoors, regardless of one’s vaccination status, in the wake of the fallout of the Delta variant and reports of COVID-19-related hospitalizations on the rise.
“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing,” L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said in a virtual briefing with reporters.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman, Louis Casiano and Keith Koffler contributed to this report.