UPDATED 10:33 AM PT – Tuesday, February 15, 2022
GOP lawmakers are stressing it’s time to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, a handful of senators, including Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), sent a letter to their colleagues urging them to not help Democrats push a continuing resolution to fund the federal government unless Democrats defund vaccine mandates.
The lawmakers pointed out these mandates pose tremendous social and economic costs on American families. They decried such actions as unconstitutional, unlawful and an abuse of federal power. The GOP senators added, while Joe Biden has not sought the enforcement of vaccine mandates since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down OSHA’s mandate on federal workers, he could push another mandate in the future.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) echoed these calls while claiming the Biden administration has forgone scientific evidence to promote a restrictive agenda.
“They’ve got the list of boxes they have to check off,” she explained. “We’ve killed the Keystone pipeline. We’ve got mandates. We’ve got people in masks. We’ve got people in lockdowns. They’re going to lose their job if they don’t go get a jab. They’ve got an agenda. For all of this bluster about fundamentally transforming our way of life, all Joe Biden has managed to do is to alienate his fellow countrymen.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) claimed he and most of Americans believe it’s time to return to normal, adding COVID-19 is here to stay. The Kentucky lawmaker decried Democrats who support forcing children to mask up at schools while rich celebrities watched the Super Bowl “without a mask in sight.” McConnell also said it’s absolute bonkers for Democrats to push for zero-COVID while asserting that there’s no reasonable health expert who says that’s possible.
However, the Republican senator commended several Democrat leaders for announcing a rollback on their vaccine and mask mandates as several cities and states, including California, Connecticut, D.C. and New Jersey, plan to return to normal. McConnell believes this all has nothing to do with the actual science.
“The only science that’s changed in the last two weeks is the political science,” he stated. “The only data that has changed in the last two weeks is Democrats’ polling data. The Washington Post put it like this, ‘the abrupt end to mask mandates reflects a shifting political landscape.’ While Democratic leaders are stampeding to finally follow the science and end burdensome mandates on adults, in many places America’s children are still being left behind.”
In the meantime, Sen. Marshall plans to introduce a bill to end the federal state of emergency. The law would strip away many federal powers to respond to national emergencies under the National Emergency Act, which was invoked by 45th President Donald Trump and then Biden to tackle COVID. Biden extended the emergency order to March 1 and lawmakers are debating whether to further extend the order or return to normal.