Republicans are offering legislation to ban federal mask mandates in schools, airplanes and forms of public transportation amid a new surge of coronavirus cases that has led to the reinstatement of mask mandates in a handful of places.
Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are co-sponsoring the Senate bill, introduced on Tuesday as the “Freedom to Breathe Act.”
Rep. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) is listed as a sponsor for legislation in the House.
The lawmakers said they were offering the bill to push back at the imposition of new mask mandates.
“Multiple entities within our government, within the public health bureaucracy, there are local schools in the D.C. area now reimposing mask mandates, this is coming back unless we stop it from happening,” Vance said in a statement.
“That’s why I introduced this legislation, and I’m going to force the Democrats to vote on it,” Vance continued. “If they say the mask mandates are not coming back, then come to the Senate floor, vote with us, and say ‘no more mask mandates.’ Let’s make it bipartisan.”
In reality, there’s little evidence any federal mask mandates are close to being imposed.
A recent uptick in COVID-19 cases across the U.S., however, has resulted in some private companies moving to mask mandates.
Vance will try to force floor consideration of the legislation Thursday, he said in the aforementioned statement. The legislation would sunset at the end of 2024 if passed.