J.D. Vance Bill Aims To Prohibit Federal Mask Mandates

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) announced on Tuesday his intent to propose the “Freedom to Breathe Act,” aimed at effectively prohibiting federal mask mandates.

This legislation would bar President Joe Biden and federal agencies from imposing mandatory face mask regulations on public transit passengers or students in schools.

Vance had previously indicated his intention to introduce this legislation last week in response to a warning from former President Trump regarding “leftwing lunatics” who are “trying very hard to bring back COVID lockdowns and mandates with all of their sudden fearmongering about the new variants that are coming.”

On Wednesday, Vance posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, “Trump is right. The left is trying to bring lockdowns back. Next week, I’ll introduce legislation to stop it.”

Earlier this month, it was reported that Eris, a subvariant of Omicron, is a highly transmissible strain that accounted for over 17% of cases in the U.S. at that time, making it the predominant variant in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated Eris, officially known as EG.5, as a “variant of interest.” However, Reuters reported that the WHO stated it does not present a more significant threat than other variants.

Vance released a statement about his Freedom to Breathe Act, saying, “The bill, if passed into law, would prevent the reimposition of federal mask mandates in the United States — particularly in public schools and on airplanes and public transportation systems. It would only apply through the end of 2024. We tried mask mandates once in this country. They failed to control the spread of respiratory viruses, violated basic bodily freedom, and set our fellow citizens against one another.”

Vance continued, “This legislation will 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.”

It remains unclear why Vance introduced a time limitation extending until the end of 2024, which coincides with the upcoming presidential election cycle.

Nonetheless, this restriction may be intended to encompass a budget-related provision that prevents federal funds, either directly or indirectly, from being utilized for the enforcement of such mandates.