The federal mask mandate on public transportation was due to expire last Friday, March 18. Earlier last week, the Transportation Security Administration extended the mask’s mandate until April 18. The White House had twice extended the mandate of the mask put in place by President Joe Biden in February 2021. However, the Senate believes that the frontline public health preventive measure against the COVID-19 pandemic should be removed.
On Tuesday, March 15, the Senate voted 57 to 40 to end the mask mandate. Eight Democratic senators crossed the aisle to vote in favor of the bill, with Senator Mitt Romney the only Republican who vote against the invoice.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced the bill. In the Senate, Paul said, “We have the power today to assure the American people that we are irreversibly returning to normalcy.” This is not surprising coming from the fiercely anti-government senator.
Paul refused to be vaccinated and remains opposed to any government action to fight the pandemic, despite his opposing position on the Ebola virus in 2014. Senator Paul is also on a crusade to eliminate Dr. Anthony Fauci from his position as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
Despite passing the Senate, legislative hurdles ahead of the bill make it nearly impossible to actually end the mask’s tenure. Even if the bill passes the House and passes, President Biden will veto the bill.
While sections of society have relaxed pandemic regulations, the data hasn’t really shown a solid reason to do so. The current death rate in the United States is collapsing, but it is still nearly 900 dead per week. The figure is similar to the first summer of the pandemic in 2020. While recent variants of COVID are less deadly, they are much more contagious and the total number of deaths has not dropped dramatically as a result.