WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) has introduced a bill in Congress that, if passed, would mandate that all airline travelers on both domestic and international flights be vaccinated against COVID-19 or they won’t be able to fly.
“We’ve seen the limitations of purely voluntary vaccinations,” Torres said on the reason why he drafted his bill. “It will only take us so far.”
The bill, H.R.4980, was quietly introduced on August 8 and is currently in the hands of the House Committee on Homeland Security, and states “To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure that any individual traveling on a flight that departs from or arrives to an airport inside the United States or a territory of the United States is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and for other purposes.”
Torres has been a vocal proponent of the immunization of travelers on commercial airlines; in addition to introducing his bill, he has also written to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), telling them it is a “commonsense step” to introduce a vaccination requirement policy.
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“The TSA never allows people to enter planes or airports with a weapon, and the delta variant is a weapon,” Torres said. “It is a threat to everyone in an airport and everyone on a plane.”
Torres noted that he will be pushing his colleagues in Congress to push through his bill as quickly as possible, but said that he also took the step of writing to the TSA and DHS because “legislation takes time.”
Currently, regions of the United States with low vaccination rates – currently approximately 30 percent of adults in the country have not received the jab – are experiencing surges in COVID-19 infections, mainly due to the more contagious Delta variant that appeared recently.
It was also reported on Wednesday that President Joe Biden is weighing the possibility of requiring vaccinations for all travelers from foreign countries when visiting the United States.