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As COVID-19 Cases Spike Across U.S., Chair DeFazio Applauds Newly-Added Mask Requirement in THUD Appropriations Bill

July 14, 2020

Washington, DC – Today, Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Peter DeFazio (D-OR) released the following statement after the House Committee on Appropriations advanced the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) bill with a newly-added provision requiring masks on airplanes, large public transit systems, and Amtrak trains and ensuring transportation workers in these sectors who interact with passengers are provided necessary equipment to protect themselves, such as gloves and sanitizing wipes. Chair DeFazio included the same language in The Heroes Act, which passed the House in mid-May but has yet to be taken up in the Senate.

“I’ve been calling on the Trump administration for months to put forth a clear, consistent mask requirement that helps stop the spread of this insidious virus in enclosed spaces such as airplane cabins, public transit, and Amtrak trains. But apparently, despite numerous studies showing masks are one of the more effective tools we have right now to slow the spread of COVID-19, requiring masks is off-message for a president who keeps trying to ‘wish’ this public health crisis away. 

“It’s reckless and wrong that this president continues to set a poor example out of his own self-interest. But I’m glad Congress is once again stepping up to advance measures to protect public health, including that of frontline workers in the transportation sector who are putting themselves and their families at risk every time they show up to work, whether from the risk of exposure to the virus, or having to deal with unruly, ill-informed passengers. I thank Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey and THUD Subcommittee Chair David Price for their partnership on this effort and I urge the rest of our colleagues in Congress to help send this bill to President Trump’s desk.”

Background:

In late April, Chair DeFazio spoke directly to FAA Administrator Dickson about the need for a federal requirement for masks on airplanes. A few days later, Chair DeFazio applauded U.S. airlines for voluntarily adopting mask requirements while again stressing the need for the FAA to make it a federal requirement. As noted above, Chair DeFazio secured provisions in The Heroes Act to require masks or face coverings for workers and passengers on commercial U.S. flights, Amtrak, and certain public transit. In addition, he secured a provision requiring the FAA to commission a study to better understand how the virus travels in an enclosed space like an airplane cabin.

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