The White House has said it opposes a provision in a Congressional bill under consideration that would mandate the use of masks for all airline, train and public transit passengers.
White House: Mask Mandate Is Overly Restrictive
Calling it “overly restrictive” the White House insisted “such decisions should be left to states, local governments, transportation systems, and public health leaders.” Trump has threatened to veto any bill that comes to his desk that includes a mask mandate, with the White House stating:
“The Administration objects to language in the bill that requires passengers and transportation workers to wear masks on commercial airplanes, Amtrak trains, and public transit systems. This requirement is overly restrictive, and such decisions should be left to States, local governments, transportation systems, and public health leaders working together to reduce the public health risk and restore passenger confidence in these transportation systems.”
The proposed mandate comes in the form of an amendment slipped into a Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) funding bill by Rep. David Price (D – North Carolina), part of H.R. 7617, a larger spending bill opposed by the White House. Price ripped into the President for opposing the mask mandate:
“President Trump’s flagrant disregard for basic public health measures is bad enough, but threatening to derail federal funding for major transportation and housing programs due to a common-sense provision to require masks on planes, trains, and buses is baffling.”
Even without a mandate from the federal government, all airlines, most transit agencies, and Amtrak already mandate facial coverings onboard. Nevertheless, airlines and Amtrak have expressed support for a nationwide mandate from the federal mandate, which would take enforcement pressure off airlines (easier to say “it’s the law” than “it’s our policy”).
The White House also seeks to eliminate funding for Amtrak’s longhaul train service and overhaul the Essential Air Service (EAS) program in its response to the funding bill under consideration. Neither is likely to be touched. But the mask mandate is a tricky political issue. Will Democrats insist upon it? Which agency would enforce it at airports across the nation? Debate will continue this week.