Airlines target a domestic testing requirement so hard that the Biden administration has already had to “circle back” on it.
Legal Insurrection readers will recall that in late January, the new administration implemented the requirement that all travelers into the United States be tested for COVID-19.
Since then, there have been even more grand plans proposed. We covered the recent proposal to impose domestic travel restrictions, which seem to target the nearly-normally functioning state of Florida.
Now a group of Florida congressional representatives are pushing back on this controversial idea.
As members of the Florida Republican Congressional Delegation, we are concerned about recent reports that your Administration is considering implementing travel restrictions to our beloved home, the Sunshine State,” Republican lawmakers lead by Rep. Byron Donalds, and including Greg Steube, and Kat Cammack, wrote to Biden in a letter on Friday. “This decision not only lacks merit but is also unequivocally unconstitutional and reeks of partisanship that will only cause reprehensible damage to our state and the more than 21 million Americans who call Florida home.
The lawmakers said that any potential plan to restrict travel to Florida “demonstrates an egregious abuse of power,” saying that it would be a move “that has no standing in science nor law.”
“As the third-largest state in the union, Florida has felt the pain of this pandemic particularly hard. Fortunately, through reasoned leadership and common sense, we have maintained a significantly lower death rate per capita than several states, including New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, and even Washington, D.C.,” they wrote. “As a nation, we have learned a tremendous amount about mitigating the damage inflicted upon the American people’s health and safety and the economic hardship caused by lockdowns and government mandates.”
Interestingly, a few days ago, the administration was also proposing testing for domestic travelers. The airline industry, already struggling because of COVID19, blasted that idea.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian has joined the chorus of travel-industry executives coming out strongly against a government proposal to require mandatory COVID-19 tests for passengers on flights within the United States.
“I think it’d be a horrible idea for a lot of reasons,” Bastian said Tuesday in an interview with CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
Bastian said testing won’t keep domestic passengers safer and will set the travel industry’s recovery back by at least another year. Airlines saw cancellations and bookings spike after mandatory testing for international flights to the U.S. was announced in January.
Bastian saidrequiring domestic travelers to get tested would divert about 10% of the country’s already scarce testing resources, given that U.S. airlines are carrying about 1 million passengers a day on average as travel picks up. There were several days during the holidays whenpassenger counts topped 1 million, setting a pandemic record, but the numbers have since retreated, according to the Transportation Security Administration.
The blast was very effective. The idea is already being “circled back”.
President Joe Biden’s administration isn’t seriously considering an imminent coronavirus testing requirement for domestic air travel, people familiar with the matter said.
The prospect of requiring tests within the U.S. was floated this month by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Rochelle Walensky, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It sparked a flurry of reaction from airlines and unions with the industry already suffering significant financial losses and job cuts due to the pandemic.
A testing mandate isn’t under close consideration, though no options are being formally ruled out, the people said. No decision is imminent, they said. One expressed surprise that the issue had erupted this week.
“Reports that there’s an intention to put in place new requirements, such as testing, are not accurate,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday.
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