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March 31, 2023
On Wednesday The House of Representatives passed a piece of legislation that would eliminate the requirement for foreign travelers to prove they have had the COVID-19 vaccine.
The legislation passed, largely towing party lines by 227-201 votes. 7 Democrat House members joined Republicans in approving the legislation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mandated that all travelers entering the United States who aren’t citizens must show proof of vaccination.
“This policy is out of touch with the rest of the world,” Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee, said on the floor during debate.
Ending the requirement “will align the United States with the rest of North America’s COVID-19 vaccine policy for people coming into the country and recognize COVID-19 is an endemic—rather than a pandemic,” Guthrie said.
Democrat House members who voted against the bill argued that removing the mandate will eliminate the possibility of implementing another one should the need arise.
The legislation has banned the CDC from introducing further vaccine mandates to enter the country.
“This is dangerous and ties the hands of our public health experts to the political whims of the most ideologically extreme in a way that makes our nation less safe and more vulnerable in the future,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The CDC have retained their stance that vaccines remain a crucial tool in fighting COVID-19.
the White House released a statement confirming that it plans to review the legislation as part of its preparation to end the pandemic public health emergency. They went onto say that removing this mandate without a scientific review represents a risk.
“The President issued this Proclamation based on advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As we approach the end of the public health emergency, the Administration will review all relevant policies, including this one,” the White House said. “Just as the establishment of this public health policy was guided by science, any termination or modification of this policy should be as well. A vote for this bill undercuts that critical principle.”
The travel industry has been campaigning for some time to remove this mandate. They argued that it was an unnecessary inconvenience to travellers.
“Every day this policy remains in place encourages some travelers to avoid the U.S., costing us valuable visitor spending and delaying our efforts to reignite inbound travel,” Tori Emerson Barnes, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy at the U.S. Travel Association, said in a statement.
“The U.S. is the only country that still has this requirement for international visitors when there is no longer any public health justification.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: LUKE MOCHERMAN
PHOTO CREDIT: THE HILL