U.S. Passes Bill To End Vaccine Mandate For International Visitors

U.S. Passes Bill To End Vaccine Mandate For Visitors

Legislation aiming to end the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for foreign travelers entering the U.S. was approved by the House on Wednesday. The legislation passed with a 227-201 vote, with 7 Democrats joining all Republicans in support. This doesn’t mean travelers can now enter without a vaccine, the bill still needs to pass through the Senate and Biden.

Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-Ky.), the chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Health Subcommittee, spoke in favor of the bill during the debate, stating that the current policy is out of touch with the rest of the world.

Democrats, however, opposed the legislation, claiming that it restricts the ability of public health experts to respond to any potential future rise in cases or virus mutations, making the nation less safe. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, referred to the bill as “dangerous” and politically motivated.

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The bill introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) would also prevent the CDC from implementing any similar mandates in the future. Massie, who himself has not been vaccinated, has raised doubts about the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines in the past.

The Biden administration had dropped its air travel COVID-19 testing requirement in June, but the CDC vaccine mandate remains. The CDC continues to emphasize that vaccines are the most crucial tool in the fight against COVID-19 and recommends all travelers to be vaccinated. The White House has expressed its opposition to rescinding the mandate without a scientific review and is currently reviewing the policy.

The travel industry has been advocating for the removal of the requirement, claiming that it is an obstacle for travelers and hinders efforts to revive inbound travel. The U.S. Travel Association noted that the U.S. is the only country with such a requirement for international visitors, with no longer any public health justification for it.