Senate Votes to End Mask Mandates in Public Transportation After Two Years of Pandemic

The motion to end the mandates was passed with bipartisan support, as 57 senators voted in favor of the measure while only 40 opposed it.

The United States Senate voted to end the federal mask mandate on public transportation, a rule that has been in place for more than 13 months, as COVID-19 cases drop. The move comes once the CDC changed its recommendation on face-covering a few days ago. The vote came after the Biden White House said it would extend the mandate in public transportation settings, like airports and train stations.

The motion to end the mandates was passed with bipartisan support, as 57 senators voted in favor of the measure while only 40 opposed it. Eight Democratic senators voted and all but one (Sen. Mitt Romney) Republicans voted to end the mask requirements.

However, the fate of the requirements is at the hands of President Biden as the repeal was still nine votes away from a majority that would override any presidential veto. The White House has already stated that the measure will be vetoed, meaning that travelers will still be compelled to use masks despite the decreasing trend of COVID cases across the country.

A large slew of states decided to end indoor mask mandates over the last few weeks (EFE)

Republican senators applauded the move. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who has been a harsh critic of the CDC throughout the pandemic, said that Tuesday’s vote “sent a message to unelected government bureaucrats to stop the anti-science, nanny state requirement of travel mask mandates.” Senator Tom Cotton tweeted that “while Biden rarely wears a mask unless he’s alone outside, he is forcing two-year-old to wear masks on planes” and called the House of Representatives to also schedule a vote on the issue.

A slew of states began ending their mask mandates a few weeks ago. The Governor of Virginia first ended the universal school mandate in January, a move that, despite being heavily criticized by Democrats, was soon replicated by blue states like New Jersey and New York. General indoor mask mandates have also been in the retreat, with Hawaii being the only state in the country with a mask mandate for indoor settings, according to the AARP.

In fact, according to the CDC’s own calculations, a vast majority of counties in the United States are currently presenting a “low” community levels of COVID-19, and only a very few handfuls of counties have a “high” degree spread, which is the only level where the CDC recommends the use of indoor masking at all.  

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