On Wednesday, the Senate approved an amendment introduced by Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, as part of a three-bill spending package. The amendment, passed by a vote of 59-38, aims to prevent the Department of Transportation from using federal funds to enforce COVID-19 mask mandates across all modes of transportation until fiscal year 2024.
Several Democrats, including Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Tester of Montana, hailing from red states and up for re-election in 2024, joined their Republican counterparts in supporting the measure, reported the Washington Examiner.
“This is a massive victory for personal freedom in this country,” Vance said. “We saw countless abuses of authority throughout the COVID pandemic, and the American people were justifiably enraged by unscientific mask mandates.
“Today, the United States Senate took an emphatic step toward common sense and individual liberty. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here and look forward to continuing the fight.”
The amendment is akin to a bill Vance introduced in September, which aimed to bar the reinstatement of federal mask mandates in the U.S. The legislation had a broader scope, striving to ensure that no federal entities, commercial airlines, or public schools could reintroduce such mandates in the future.
The Senate is voting on 41 amendments to the $280 billion package, which would allocate funds for several government departments, including Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation; the Food and Drug Administration; and military construction.
On Tuesday, lawmakers agreed to bring up for amendment votes this week the long-anticipated minibus, combining 3 of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government.
Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, are working to advance this bundle of legislation, which includes nine additional fiscal 2024 funding bills.
With a looming government shutdown deadline on Nov. 17, ongoing talks are addressing the potential need for another continuing resolution to sustain existing funding levels and provide additional time for negotiations.
Jim Thomas | email@example.com
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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