On Monday, the Biden administration responded to the decision by a federal judge in Florida to void President Biden’s national mask mandate, which covers airports and airplane travel along with other forms of public transportation, by saying the mandate was no longer in effect but that the administration would be considering its options.
“The agencies are reviewing the decision and assessing potential next steps,” an administration official said in a statement. “In the meantime, today’s court decision means CDC’s public transportation masking order is not in effect at this time. Therefore, TSA will not enforce its Security Directives and Emergency Amendment requiring mask use on public transportation and transportation hubs at this time. CDC recommends that people continue to wear masks in indoor public transportation settings.”
During Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that federal officials were “reviewing” the ruling “as we speak.”
“We would say to anyone sitting out there: We’d recommend you wear masks on the airplane. And then, as soon as we can provide an update from here — hopefully soon — we’ll provide that to all of you,” Psaki said. “The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time, two weeks, to be able to access the latest science in keeping with his responsibility to protect the American people.”
“So, this is obviously a disappointing decision,” she added. “The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit. As you know, this just came out this afternoon. So, right now, the Department of Homeland Security, who would be implementing, and the CDC are reviewing the decision. And, of course, the Department of Justice would make any determinations about litigation.”
The Biden administration’s comments come in response to a ruling from U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle in Tampa that voided the mask mandate because it “exceeded the CDC’s statutory authority, improperly invoked the good cause exception to notice and comment rulemaking, and failed to adequately explain its decisions.”
She added that “our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends.”
“The Court DECLARES UNLAWFUL and VACATES the Mask Mandate, remanding it to the CDC for further proceedings consistent with this order,” Mizelle ordered. “The Court directs the Clerk to TERMINATE President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., as a Defendant to this action, to ENTER final judgment in favor of Plaintiffs as prescribed in this order, and to CLOSE this case.”
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