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Tipsheet

Senate Votes to Remove Mask Mandates on Public Transportation

AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

The Senate voted Tuesday in favor of a resolution to remove masking requirements for public transportation, including airplanes, trains and buses, in the most recent effort to scale back coronavirus restrictions in the U.S.

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The resolution was approved by a vote of 57-40, reducing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention policy mandating that most people wear face coverings on public transportation.

The legislation, considered under the Congressional Review Act, needed just a simple majority to pass the Senate instead of the 60-vote threshold typically required to avoid a filibuster. The Congressional Review Act allows Congress to remove rules implemented by government agencies by passing a resolution.

Republican Sen. Rand Paul (KY), who has been a staunch critic of mask mandates, introduced the legislation.

Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (CO), Jon Tester (MT), Kyrsten Sinema (AZ), Mark Kelly (AZ), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Jacky Rosen (NV) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.) all voted for the bill. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) was the only Republican to oppose the resolution.

Four of the Democrats to vote in favor of the bill – Kelly, Bennet, Kelley, Cortez Masto and Hassan – are facing reelection challenges in November.

Despite the bill passing the Senate, it still needs to pass the House of Representatives and would have to overcome the threat of a veto from President Joe Biden in order to become law. 

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"We have it within our power today to ensure the American people that we are irreversibly going back to normal," Paul said during a speech on the Senate Floor.

This comes after the Transportation Security Administration extended its mask mandate last week. The mandate, which was set to expire on March 18, was extended to April 18. The Biden administration implemented the requirement last year, twice extending it since it was imposed. The mandate states that the public must wear face coverings on all forms of public transportation.

States and cities across the country have begun easing coronavirus restrictions, with Hawaii being the only remaining state currently with an indoor mask mandate still in place. Hawaii's mask mandate will end starting March 26.

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