J.D. Vance and Senate Republicans Push for Unanimous Consent Vote on Blocking Mask Mandates

AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar, File

On Thursday, Ohio Senator J.D. Vance spoke on the Senate floor to push for unanimous consent on his bill to prohibit mask mandates in schools and on public transportation. Vance was flanked by his co-sponsors, fellow Senate Republicans Eric Schmitt (Missouri), Katie Britt (Alabama), Josh Hawley, (Missouri), Mike Braun (Indiana), John Barrasso (Wyoming), and Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee). Vance's Freedom to Breathe Act would block any re-imposition of a federal mask mandate for domestic air travel, K-12 schooling, and on public transportation for 15 months. 

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From Vance's September 6 press release:

The Freedom to Breathe Act, which would prevent the reimposition of federal mask mandates for domestic air travel, public transit systems, and primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.
 
Any floor objection to Senator Vance’s unanimous consent request would amount to a clear admission that Democrats intend to reimpose mask mandates in the near term. This narrowly tailored legislation sunsets in 2024 and does not apply to hospitals or nursing homes.
 
“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,” said Senator Vance. “That’s why I introduced this legislation, and I’m going to force the Democrats to vote on it. 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.”

Vance said in his floor speech:

I think that what our children most of all need, and I am the father of three kids under the age of 7, they need us to not be Chicken Little about every single respiratory pandemic and problem that confronts this country. We are gonna have people who get sick from viruses, it has always been thus. The way to respond to it, is with calmness, resolve, and strategic thinking, not by pretending the world is ending, because what has always happened is going to happen once again. We cannot repeat the anxiety, the stress, and the non-stop panic of the last couple of years. That's what this legislation is about. End the mandates, end the panic, and let's get back to some common sense.  

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As my colleague Ward Clark reported when Vance initiated the bill:

The effectiveness of masks in preventing the spread of COVID is widely disputed. What should not be in dispute is that the federal government does not have any constitutional authority to order any such use. A CDC mandate requiring masks on commercial airplanes and other transit was struck down in April of 2022 and later rendered moot by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals following the Biden Administration's ending of the COVID emergency. The problem here is that in rendering the original lawsuit moot, the 11th Circuit effectively left the issue undecided, raising the possibility of another administration or agency attempting a similar mandate in the future. 

With the rise of COVID hysteria returning with yet another variant, it is all too credible that the government will begin making authoritarian moves to reinstitute mask mandates where they can. As Vance has noted in multiple interviews, D.C. and other school systems are already reinstituting mask mandates. People have short attention spans, and as my colleague Bonchie wrote, Republicans are as much to blame as anyone for allowing memories to fade, particularly since the damage from restrictive measures like mask mandates is still being quantified and assessed.

As was anticipated, a vote on the Freedom to Breathe Act was blocked by the Democrat-controlled body.

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A good question for Senator Markey: If we were "guided out of the darkest days of a pandemic," then why are we trying to recreate the circumstances that will put us right back there again?

Even with a block on the federal level, federalism is the key to ensuring the COVID hysteria can be muted and even silenced. Republican Congressman Kevin Kiley (California) wrote about this.

This was only a matter of time. Nostalgia for “COVID” has been building among the Faucis of the world. Now, with an apparent uptick in cases, they are making their move. Fauci himself just took to CNN, and mandates are returning in force.

Last week, LA Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, a Fauci imitator whose insane decrees often previewed Newsom’s next move, “emphasized that the possibility of reinstating mask mandates remains a viable option.”

Simply put, we will not let this happen. In fact, we already beat back one attempted Mask Renaissance by Ferrer. And our hand is much stronger now. 

We got Biden to terminate the national emergency – even after he pledged a veto – by passing legislation I sponsored in the House; and we got Newsom to do the same through unrelenting pressure (along with an assist from the infamous maskless Magic Johnson photo). 

Not to mention that anyone who even thinks about a new child mask mandate will have to answer for HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s bumbling response to my questioning. (“We never forced anyone to do anything.”)

Several state legislatures have voted in or introduced bills that would restrict any attempt to institute mask and vaccine mandates again, as well as challenging County Boards and the public health apparatus in their municipalities.

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A return to vigilance by individual citizens, as well as picking up the rallying cry of "Never Again," can do much more than any governing body. 

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