Dear Mr. President:
We write today to express our frustration with your Administration's decision to extend
the Federal transportation mask mandate and to urge you to reverse this ill-advised, arbitrary
decision. It is far past time that we relieve both the traveling public and frontline transportation
workforce of this unnecessary burden and get our Nation's transportation system back to normal.
Like most Americans, we are bewildered by the Transportation Security Administration's
(TSA) March 10, 2022, announcement to extend the expiration date of the transportation mask
mandate from March 18, 2022, to April 18, 2022. To add to the absurdity, this extension was
issued the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that
"more than 98% of the U.S. population is in a location with low or medium COVID-19
Community Level." That means that 98% of the population now lives in an area where the
CDC advises that indoor masking is not a necessary preventative measure. TSA's March 10,
2022, statement is more perplexing, given it makes clear that the extension of the Federal
transportation mask mandate was issued at the behest of the CDC. It is apparent that your Administration is applying a two-tiered system of COVID-19 mask guidance on the American people: one grounded in science and the other twisted by politics.
As you referenced in your State of the Union address (an event with no mask mandate),
the Federal government must use all tools at its disposal to facilitate, rather than hamper, the
complete reopening of our Nation's economy. However, your Administration's decision to
extend the Federal transportation mask mandate comes at a time when not only have our
Nation's leading public health experts relaxed mask guidance recommendations, but also while
all states and many localities have moved to lift mask mandates.
All around the country masks are coming off. After realizing that Americans were fed up
with conflicting, outdated, and nonsensical public health mandates, even state governments,
controlled by both the Democratic and Republican parties, began announcing plans in early
February 2022 to relax mask guidance, prompting the CDC to quickly shift its plans. Whether
Americans are dining at a restaurant, going to a concert, riding a school bus, attending the Super
Bowl, or visiting Philadelphia for a political retreat, the CDC has finally recognized that masking
is not required. Against that backdrop, it is unconscionable that your Administration believes that
it is acceptable to continue to threaten airline passengers and public transportation users with
fines and removal if they take off their mask for longer than it takes to sip a cup of coffee.
Operators across all modes of our Nation's transportation system are looking to return to
normal operations and capacity levels in 2022. Commercial airlines, for instance, are clawing
their way towards a full recovery, but your Administration's policies, from doubling down on the
mask mandate to a failure to rein in record inflation and sky-high fuel prices, continue to stymie
their rate of recovery at a time when they are trying to welcome back an eager traveling public.
This policy continues to frustrate and damage an airline industry that has taken
extraordinary measures to keep passengers safe. Studies have shown that between effective High
Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems on board commercial aircraft and strong
disinfection practices and policies, the risk of transmission of the virus among passengers is
significantly reduced. In fact, one study revealed that the rate of ventilation of cabin air onboard
a particular aircraft "removed particulate 15 times faster than a home, and 5 to 6 times faster than
recommended design specifications for modern hospital operating or patient isolation rooms."
Your Administration should have ensured that consistent Federal mask policies were
applied to all Americans between the CDC's February 25, 2022, announcement of its new
Community Level framework and TSA's March 10, 2022, extension of the Federal
transportation mask mandate. Rather than doing the work necessary to revise masking
guidance for our Nation's transportation sector--guidance that the CDC has already stated will
align with its recently rolled out Community Level framework--your Administration chose to
baselessly extend the Federal transportation mask mandate. Americans finally realize that the
CDC's policies, which pretend that COVID-19 only exists on airplanes and public transportation,
are little more than science fiction. In extending the mandate, your Administration has not only
chosen to further exacerbate the ongoing and concerning issue of unruly passengers on board commercial aircraft, but also has further degraded the CDC's reputation as our Nation's leading
public health agency.
To that end, we urge you to immediately reverse your Administration's decision to
extend the transportation mask mandate through April 18, 2022, and to instead implement
reasonable policies that support our transportation operators and workforce as they work
diligently to get our Nation moving again.