(Discern Report)—Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) expressed confidence on Wednesday that he can successfully pass legislation to prohibit federal mask mandates, despite Democratic control of the Senate.
Vance has been raising concerns for weeks about the possibility of returning to pandemic protocols. However, his attempts to bring his Freedom to Breathe Act for floor consideration were unsuccessful. The legislation aims to prevent the federal government from imposing mask mandates for domestic air travel, public transportation, and schools.
During a press conference with Senate GOP colleagues, Vance stated, “We’re working on a number of different angles to actually try to get it passed, or some version of it passed. I was really disappointed that the UC was blocked.”
He further pointed out the contradiction by noting that when the legislation was initially introduced, Democrats claimed that no one wanted to bring back mask mandates. Nevertheless, Democrats objected when the bill aimed to ban such mandates. Vance expressed that this does not make sense.
Vance remains determined to pursue the legislation and believes there are several avenues through which it can be passed.
Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), and Mike Braun (R-IN) co-sponsored the bill. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is unlikely to bring it to the Senate floor. Addressing criticism about prioritizing the potential government shutdown, Senator Schmitt argued that there are numerous issues that can be simultaneously addressed. He emphasized the importance of proactively preventing the traumatizing experiences caused by the COVID-19 pandemic from happening again.
Schmitt highlighted the current existence of school districts with mask mandates and federal programs like Head Start that may influence future mandates. He believes it is crucial to be proactive and get ahead of these potential mandates.
“Of course that’s a big issue, but I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” he said. “Imean, there’s a lot of things to do. [The COVID-19 pandemic] is a lesson in something that we can’t let happen again, so I think this is proactive.”
The press conference included both Senator Vance and Senator Schmitt, along with Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY). Thune and Barrasso are among the top three candidates expected to succeed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) when he retires. The third candidate is Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the former majority whip.
Thune expressed his frustration, saying, “It’s an example of when you give the Democrats an inch, they’ll take a mile. This stuff is crazy.” He hopes for an addressal of the issue to eliminate burdensome policies and mandates that make life more difficult for children and people in general.
Barrasso, a former orthopedic surgeon, stated that the legislation protects individual rights and preserves state rights. He emphasized the need to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach from the federal government and stressed the importance of common sense.
“This protects our individual rights as citizens and it preserves state’s rights,” he said. “The last thing we need is another one-size-fits-all approach from the federal government, Washington telling us what to do once again — it only makes common sense.”
The push for this legislation partly stems from a recent effort by a Maryland school district to reinstate mask mandates. It also came after the White House announced that President Joe Biden would wear a mask indoors following the positive COVID-19 test of First Lady Jill Biden. President Biden was subsequently seen occasionally not adhering to his own rules.
Although the bill has better prospects in the GOP-controlled House, Republicans have faced limited success in repealing COVID-19 measures in the Senate, including the military’s vaccine mandate last year.
Article generated from corporate media reports.