The House of Representatives on Feb. 8 passed a bill that would end a vaccine mandate on foreign travelers entering the United States.
H.R. 185, introduced by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), is a brief bill.
“A BILL [to] terminate the requirement imposed by the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for proof of COVID–19 vaccination for foreign travelers,” the top of the legislation reads.
The legislation would forbid federal agencies from using any congressionally apportioned funds to enforce such a vaccination mandate.
In addition to overruling the CDC’s April 2022 order, the bill would prohibit the imposition of any similar vaccination requirement for foreign travelers entering the United States in the future.
The bill passed in a 227-201 vote.
“Life has returned to normal across the country,” Rep. Nick Langworthy (R-N.Y.) said in support of the bill. “Despite the rest of the world moving on from COVID, this administration persists in maintaining an unnecessary vaccination requirement for those entering the United States.”
The day before, the bill had easily glided through the House Rules Committee in a 9-3 vote. All nine committee Republicans voted to advance the bill. The committee’s Democrats, excluding an absent member, voted against the bill.
In an Oct. 25, 2021, proclamation, President Joe Biden announced a ban on entry to the United States for foreigners not vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, a ban which the administration said was a “science-based public health measure.”
Biden called specifically for a ban on unvaccinated “covered individuals”—non-citizens seeking to enter the country temporarily—being allowed entry by air travel.
In April 2022, the CDC announced the “Amended Order Implementing Presidential Proclamation on Advancing the Safe Resumption of Global Travel During the COVID–19 Pandemic,” which put Biden’s rule into effect.
Less Strict for Illegal Aliens
The CDC’s April 2022 order is stricter on those temporarily entering the United States for travel than on illegal aliens.
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), in comments during the Rules Committee hearing, noted that COVID restrictions on foreigners legally entering the United States for travel are harsher than those imposed on illegal aliens.
Namely, Burgess relayed a conversation he had had during a visit to the border with Customs and Border Patrol agents.
He said the agents told him that unvaccinated illegal aliens are allowed into the country under the “catch and release” policy. This policy describes a procedure whereby illegal aliens apprehended at the border are released into the country to await their day in court. Statistics, however, show that many who cross the southern border illegally never show up for this date.
Burgess described vaccination as “purely voluntary” for illegal aliens entering the country.