Senate passes amendment to ban federal mask mandates on commercial flights and public transit

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The Senate passed an amendment banning federal mask mandates on commercial airlines and public transportation in an appropriations bill Wednesday. 

In a 59-38 vote, senators — including several Democrats — voted in favor of the amendment brought forth by Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, which restricts any federal funds from being used to enforce mask mandates on passenger flights, trains, transit buses, and other publicly funded transportation through the next fiscal year.

Vance called the passage ‘a massive victory for personal freedom’ in a statement Wednesday. 

‘We saw countless abuses of authority throughout the COVID pandemic, and the American people were justifiably enraged by unscientific mask mandates,’ he said.

Democrat Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Mark Kelly of Arizona voted in favor of the amendment. 

Last month, Vance introduced the Freedom to Breathe Act, legislation that would prevent the government from reinstating mask mandates in response to COVID-19. It would prevent the enforcement of mask wearing on public transit, airplanes, elementary schools and other institutions. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order in January 2021 mandating travelers on public transportation hubs to wear a mask in tandem with President Joe Biden’s executive action mandating masks for any interstate travel. The order applied to airplanes, boats and ferries, buses and other public transit. 

On April 18, a federal judge from Florida ended the mask mandate in her ruling opinion in the Health Freedom Defense Fund v. Biden case. 

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