A bill that would immediately tear down the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for foreign inbound travelers has easily passed the Republican-controlled House and will now progress to the Senate.
The bill, known as H.R. 185, was tabled by representative Thomas Massie who has described the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine mandate as “unscientific”.
As well as ending the current vaccine mandate, H.R. 185 would also prevent the CDC from imposing a similar COVID-19 vaccine mandate in the future.
The United States has become an international outlier with its vaccine mandate, and in recent weeks, the U.S. became the only country in the world to require foreign travelers to prove they have had at least two shots of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.
Despite protests from the travel industry and the general international consensus to drop vaccine requirements, the Biden administration is said to remain in support of the vaccine rules despite the President declaring victory over the pandemic.
The mandate, which is officially known as the Presidential Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID-19 Pandemic was introduced to replace a general ban on non-citizens from entering the U.S. and isn’t expected to run out until May 2023.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Travel Association applauded the passage of H.R. 185 through the House, saying it was about time the “outdated” policy was swiftly brought to an end.
“The need for this requirement has long since passed, and we appreciate the bipartisan action by the U.S. House to end this outdated policy,” commented Tori Emerson Barnes, executive vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Travel Association.
“The U.S. is the only country that has maintained this policy, putting at risk valuable visitor spending the longer it remains in place,” Barnes continued.
Unless the Bill passes the Senate, lawmakers fear the CDC will extend the mandate on May 11 – the date that it is set to otherwise expire.
The Biden administration also faced criticism for retaining a general ban on foreign visitors longer than other countries, and the administration’s airplane face mask mandate was only lifted when a Florida judge ruled that the masking rules were illegal.
President Biden did, however, drop a requirement for foreign visitors to provide a negative COVID-19 test last June. That does, of course, raise a fairly obvious disparity – a foreign traveler could get on an airplane to the United States while infected with COVID-19, so long as they are vaccinated.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.