In a rebuke of the Biden administration’s policy, eight Democrats joined Republicans on Tuesday as the Senate passed a resolution to repeal the federal travel mask mandates on public transportation.
The final vote was 57-40, with just one Republican, Mitt Romney of Utah, opposing the resolution, which was proposed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).
But CNN noted that the resolution is “unlikely to move in the Democratic-led House and would likely be opposed by President Joe Biden. The White House had issued a veto threat against the proposal earlier Tuesday.”
“Paul forced a vote on his resolution using the Congressional Review Act. The act allows senators to overturn federal agencies’ regulations within a certain time frame and can do it by a majority threshold without having to clear the typical 60 votes to overcome a legislative filibuster,” CNN reported.
The Biden administration this month announced the federal public transportation mask mandate would be extended through April 18, even though nearly every state has done away with statewide mask requirements (Hawaii will be the last state to do so when the mandate expires on March 25).
Republicans have been demanding Biden and congressional Democrats ease numerous federal mandates designed to combat COVID-19. Paul, an ophthalmologist who has been practicing since 1993, has been a vocal opponent of mask mandates and has repeatedly clashed with the top U.S. immunologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Before the vote, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) urged his fellow Democrats to oppose Paul’s resolution. He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set the date and lawmakers should follow that.
“Instead, let’s work with the CDC and see what guidance they come up with for this April 18 deadline. That would be much better for public health and much better for our economy,” Kaine said in remarks on the Senate floor.
Paul, a member of the Senate Health Committee, mocked the phrase “follow the science.”
“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,” Paul said in a statement before his move to force a vote on the issue. “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.”
Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the ranking GOP member of the Senate Commerce Committee, said Republicans are making this “common-sense request of the administration on behalf of the American people.”
“When the rules of government do not comply with common sense, it offends free Americans to have to abide by some silly rule and you can expect the objections we’re hearing from the public,” Wicker said at a news conference.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent, and ran the Drudge Report from 2010 to 2015. Send tips to email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.