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Mrs. MILLER-MEEKS. Mr. Chairman, I thank my colleague for yielding time.
I rise in strong support of H.R. 185 to end the international travel COVID vaccine mandate.
I am a doctor, and unlike my colleague on the other side of the aisle, I am also a former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, so I am speaking for public health.
The vast majority of Americans are either vaccinated or have natural immunity. There is no recognition of natural immunity by continuing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for travelers into the United States.
This is, as previously alluded, not 2020. It is 2023. This timely measure nullifies the CDC's order that restricts noncitizen entry into the United States unless the traveler can prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19. It doesn't say to prove immunity or prove testing negative.
Mr. Speaker, it is time to move forward. Entry restrictions were necessary during the early stages and the height of the pandemic, but that was when we, as a Nation, were still learning the details of the virus and experiencing soaring death and hospitalization rates.
Now, over 95 percent of Americans have various forms of immunity, whether from vaccination or prior infection, and health professionals have deep knowledge of the coronavirus that has led to multiple vaccines and therapeutics.
People have returned to work, children to school, and Americans have resumed international travel at prepandemic rates.
Some of the countries with the most stringent lockdown and protocols, Canada, Australia, and Germany, all have eliminated their severe entry restrictions. All have suspended their vaccine requirements. It is time that we, as a Nation, do the same.
This does not mean that we do not still have circulating virus. We are aware of that, but it is time for the mandate for travelers entering the United States to end.
Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree that the pandemic is over. President Biden even said so himself.
House Republicans will continue to move our country past the pandemic, which is exactly what this bill does.
Mr. Chair, I urge my colleagues as a public health professional to vote ``yes.''
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