Vulnerable Democrats Break With Biden on Interstate Face Diapers
They're voting for Rand Paul's repeal that Biden is sure to veto
The chair of the House Democrats’ campaign arm and some of the vulnerable members he’s charged with re-electing are voicing support for a Republican-led mask mandate repeal bill.
Why it matters: This would set up a potential showdown with the White House, which recently issued a one-month extension on the federal mask mandate for public transit and airplanes.
- The backing also illustrates how Democrats — especially those facing tough re-election fights — are trying to distance themselves from the pro-mask policies that defined their party for the past two years.
- “I’m completely over mask mandates,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), who chairs the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Axios. “I don’t think they make any sense anymore. I’m for whatever gets rid of mask mandates as quickly as possible.”
- “I think you’re safer on an airplane than you are in a restaurant or at the gym, so I don’t know why we’re wearing masks in the air.”
- Some medical experts say masking on public transit still helps reduce community transmission, especially at international crossroads like airports, Axios’ Erin Doherty reported.
- Eight Democrats voted for the resolution, including Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) — some of the most vulnerable incumbents this midterm cycle.
- The others were Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), mostly centrists facing re-election in 2024.
- Asked if the House will vote on the mask resolution, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, demurred. “I don’t know the answer to that,” he said.
While the Senate is often a graveyard for liberal legislation, the same could be said of the House on measures rolling back pandemic restrictions.
- A resolution to overturn a vaccine mandate on private businesses that passed the Senate in December with support from Manchin and Tester is currently languishing in the House.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office did not respond to questions about whether either resolution will be voted on.
In the House, some vulnerable lawmakers support the bill or think the Senate bill should get a fair look in the House.
- “I would vote for that,” Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) told Axios. She argued that localities and airlines “can make that decision for themselves.”
- “If, based on science, [airplanes are] just as safe as anywhere else, then we should be considering it,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.).
- “People are ready and are armed with the information they need to protect themselves,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). “I think we ought to consider it, the question is: when?”
But other Democrats are leery of legislating on COVID-19 health precautions, after preaching for two years to follow science and with a new variant spreading through Europe.
- “Eight of my colleagues came down with COVID in the last few days — it’s still around,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) told Axios.
- “I think the House should stay out of issues of science, generally speaking,” he said.
- “I think it should be based on what the CDC says,” said Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) who led the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last cycle.
The White House has threatened to veto the resolution, and there’s nowhere near the level of support in either chamber for a veto override.