These Democrats Want To Smother Biden's Mask Mandates. Like In A Ventilator.
Last week, the Senate passed Rand Paul’s resolution repealing the federal mask mandate on public transportation. This was a bipartisan middle finger to President Joe Biden’s public health measures: The eight Democrats who somehow thought it was a good idea to vote for anything Rand Paul initiated were Joe Manchin from West Virginia, Jon Tester from Montana, Michael Bennet from Colorado, Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto from Nevada, Maggie Hassan from New Hampshire, Mark Kelly from Arizona, and Kyrsten Sinema from Sinemaland. Republican Mitt Romney from Utah voted with the remaining Democrats to keep the mandate in place.
Paul forced the vote using the Congressional Review Act, which allows senators to overturn federal agencies’ regulations by a simple majority vote. Although COVID-19 cases are plummeting across the nation, the Biden administration had extended the mandate through April 18 and planned to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on a revised policy framework. The Senate instead joined Paul’s rejection of facial coverings, which actual medical experts consider one of the most effective public health measures to prevent transmission of the coronavirus.
The self-made ophthalmologist seemed to think that a Senate resolution can stamp out COVID permanently: "We have it within our power today to ensure the American people that we are irreversibly going back to normal."
Kelly, Bennet, Cortez Masto and Hassan are all up for reelection this year, and as the resolution moves to the House, where Democrats have a narrow majority and Republicans are even crazier, some moderate Democrats have already come out against masks.
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney from New York, who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Axios:
I'm completely over mask mandates. I don't think they make any sense anymore. I'm for whatever gets rid of mask mandates as quickly as possible.
I think you're safer on an airplane than you are in a restaurant or at the gym, so I don't know why we're wearing masks in the air.
It’s frustrating whenever people claim they “don’t know” something they could easily Google. Medical experts have stated that continued masking on public transportation, particularly air travel, can reduce broader community transmission. According to Leonard J. Marcus, director of the Aviation Public Health Initiative at Harvard University, one person wearing a mask reduces their chance of contracting or spreading COVID-19 by 50 percent.
Also, the immunocompromised and unvaccinated children can avoid indoor dining and spin classes.Travel is more often a necessity. Republicans understood this distinction when they argued against putting disruptive anti-maskers on a “no-fly” list. Who spends three to six hours at a time at the gym or crammed next to a complete stranger for that long in a restaurant?
In the House, some vulnerable lawmakers support the bill or think the Senate bill should get a fair look in the House.
"I would vote for that," Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) told Axios. She argued that localities and airlines "can make that decision for themselves."
"If, based on science, [airplanes are] just as safe as anywhere else, then we should be considering it," said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.).
"People are ready and are armed with the information they need to protect themselves," said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). "I think we ought to consider it, the question is: when?”
The science doesn’t indicate that COVID-19 is less virulent in swing states or districts, so “vulnerable” Democrats retreating on sensible COVID-19 policies just before midterms look craven and opportunistic. It also concedes that everyone’s fed up with mandates and is eager to ride public transportation barefaced. A recent poll showed that 56 percent of Americans still support indoor mask mandates. Which makes sense since COVID is still killing 1000-2000 Americans a day.
The anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers make a lot of noise but they aren’t the majority. If Paul’s resolution passes the Democratic-controlled House, Biden is prepared to veto, but that’s hardly the intra-party showdown we need. Democrats won’t distinguish themselves to voters as the second most pro-pandemic party. They should just do the right thing and stand by it.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."