Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Thursday shot down a Senate bill that would have banned federal officials from forcing mask mandates on schoolchildren, domestic air travelers or public transit users.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) had brought the “Freedom to Breathe Act” to the Senate floor for consideration in an effort to prevent a repeat of what he called “the failed experiment of mass mandatory masking.”
“Today I want to ensure that we do not subject the American people to this tyranny again for the sake of nothing,” he declared.
The Ohio senator pointed out that despite Democrat claims to the contrary, mask mandates were slowly returning in some businesses, hospitals and schools across the nation.
“It’s not just that masks, according to randomized controlled studies do no good, it’s that they can actively cause harm. We know that a generation of schoolchildren have suffered significant speech and developmental disabilities because this country panicked instead of using its brain and forced toddlers and small children to wear masks. We cannot return to the failed policies of the pandemic,” he argued.
Vance reiterated that “mandatory masking was a failure with costs and very little benefit,” and urged fellow lawmakers not to repeat the same mistake every flu season.
In an oped at Fox News, Vance warned that the COVID tyranny of 2020 and 2021 could return unless action is taken to prevent it.
“We all know how this goes,” he wrote. “It starts with mask mandates, then social distancing, and then forced lockdowns to ‘slow the spread.’ None of it works, but it costs us dearly. It robbed us of our basic freedoms and shattered our national unity amid a crisis,” Vance added. “We cannot let it happen again.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) blocked the motion, saying the legislation would “hamstring public health experts who guided our nation out of the darkest days of the pandemic.”
Democrat Sen. Ed Markey OBJECTS to Republican Sen. @JDVance1's bill that would prohibit the government from enacting forced masking requirements on airplanes, on public transit, and in schools pic.twitter.com/KX0Prgicm6
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 7, 2023
Kaiser Permanente, the largest healthcare provider in California, and Lionsgate Studios, also based in California, recently issued mask mandate policies and then reversed them a few days later after a backlash from employees and the public.
Vance noted in his Fox News piece that “Democrats insist they have no plans to mandate masking again.”
So, let’s hold them to their words and end the specter of COVID-19 tyranny for good. Today, I will go to the Senate floor to request unanimous consent on my “Freedom to Breathe Act.” That means if no one objects, the bill passes automatically. But if Senate Democrats block my legislation, they must be planning to reinstate mask mandates once again.
Markey has been a stalwart supporter of mask mandates going back to December 2020, when he and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced the “Encouraging Masks For All Act” which would have imposed mask mandates throughout the entire U.S.
The Democrats argued at the time that “overwhelming scientific evidence” had shown that forced masking (on people as young as two years old) had helped reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The Freedom to Breathe Act would have banned all federal officials—including Joe Biden—“from issuing mask mandates applying to domestic air travel, public transit systems, or primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools.”