Health

EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans To Introduce Bill Ending Federal COVID-19 Restrictions

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Florida Rep. Carlos Giménez and three other House Republicans will introduce legislation later Thursday that would end federal enforcement and funding of COVID-19 restrictions nationwide.

The bill, the America Reopens Act, targets transportation services and agencies, ports of entry, and colleges and universities that maintain face mask or COVID-19-related mandates. It eliminates all federal mandates, such as those enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration, and federal funding for some state-level institutions that maintain their own mandates. The legislation also bans federal funding for a COVID-19 vaccine passport system. (RELATED: Biden Administration Ends COVID-19 For Illegal Migrants Before Regular Americans)

“If we don’t push this, then we’ll never get out of the COVID-19 pandemic in our minds,” Giménez said in an interview with the Daily Caller. “Once you have a vaccine that’s proven to be effective, and everybody either has been vaccinated or has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, then we should open up.”

Read the bill here:

04.05.2022 America Reopens Bill Text by Michael Ginsberg on Scribd

Giménez’s home state of Florida has banned K-12 schools from instituting mask mandates, with Gov. Ron DeSantis arguing that parents should decide whether or not their children wear masks. A member of the state legislature introduced a bill in February that would cut funding for school districts that attempted to impose the mandates anyway, and would distribute the funds equally to districts that did not attempt to impose mandates.

The America Reopens Act takes a similar approach with grants to colleges and universities. It prevents federal funding from “be[ing] made available under any applicable program to a public institution of higher education unless in-person instruction is available to all students at such institution; and a student may opt-out of any requirement of the institution to wear a face covering, to be vaccinated against COVID–19, or to take a COVID–19 test,” with carve-outs for medical and nursing schools.

It also creates a voucher program out of unused COVID-19 relief funds for children who were forced out of public school due to COVID-19-related closures. The voucher funds would come from unused CARES Act dollars.

The bill will be co-sponsored by three other Florida Republicans, Kat Cammack, Byron Donalds, and Maria Elvira Salazar.

Several members of Congress and Biden administration officials have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days, and public health officials nationwide have expressed concern over the new Omicron variant BA.2. China recently locked down the entire city of Shanghai, which has a population of 26 million, over 268 reported cases.

Giménez told the Daily Caller that he is “very concerned” that governments may attempt to re-institute mandates in response to the new variant. He cited reports that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) school reopening guidelines were influenced by several top teachers’ union officials.

“There’s been evidence now that the Biden administration is not following the science, they’re following the teachers’ unions. The CDC asked the teachers’ unions for comment before they issued guidance, and the teachers’ unions are telling them that they don’t want to open up. The science has shown that kids are not really affected by the virus,” he said.

“It should be up to the parents to decide whether they want to send their kids to school or not for in-person learning,” Giménez added.