‘Countless abuses of authority’: A new amendment would restrict funding for enforcing mask mandates

by Josh Cohen

Photo: Alamy

On Wednesday, the Senate advanced Ohio Sen. JD Vance’s amendment to prevent federal funding for enforcing mask mandates.

In a significant move reported by the Washington Examiner, the U.S. Senate has approved an amendment introduced by Senator Vance 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.

This bipartisan amendment received support from several Democrats, including Senators Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Tester of Montana, as highlighted by the Washington Examiner. Notably, these Democrat senators, hailing from red states and facing reelection in 2024, saw merit in the amendment.

Senator Vance, as revealed by the Washington Examiner, hailed this development as a significant victory for personal freedom in the country. He stated, “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 nature of this amendment is ”akin to a bill previously introduced by Senator Vance in September”. 

That legislation called the “Freedom To Breathe Act” was noted in a press release on Senator Vance’s website that it would “…ensure that no federal bureaucracy, no commercial airline, and no public school can impose the misguided policies of the past. Democrats say they’re not going to bring back mask mandates – we’re going to hold them to their word.”

While this new amendment marked a significant development, it is just one of many that the Senate is currently considering. Newsmax stated, “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.”

To facilitate this appropriations process, lawmakers, as highlighted by Newsmax, agreed on Tuesday to bring up the long-anticipated minibus for amendment votes this week. This minibus, combining three of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government, is a significant step forward in government funding efforts.

Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, as detailed by Newsmax, are working to advance this bundle of legislation, which includes nine additional fiscal 2024 funding bills. Their efforts are part of an attempt to influence the appropriations process, given the likelihood of a broader funding standoff between the Senate and House Republicans.

With a looming government shutdown deadline of Nov. 17, discussions are already underway, as reported by Newsmax, to address the potential need for another continuing resolution.

Such a resolution, as Newsmax notes, would “help sustain existing funding levels, providing additional time for negotiations” and ensuring the continued functioning of critical government operations.

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