Airlines and Amtrak Could Require Proof of Vaccine if New Bill From Virginia Dem Passes
Congressman Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat, introduced a new piece of legislation on Thursday that if passed would require proof of COVID-19 vaccine or a negative test within 72 hours for all travelers and workers on domestic United State airline and Amtrak trips.
The bill, which he is calling the "Safe Travels Act," would also require all airport and Amtrak employees and contractors to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly COVID testing.
"Requiring airport and Amtrak travelers and employees to provide a proof of COVID vaccine or negative test is just common sense," Representative Beyer said in a press release.
"These are easy steps we can take to make travel safer, as companies like United have already demonstrated with responsible policy changes. Americans want a return to normal that includes traveling for business or pleasure, and Congress can help make people comfortable traveling again by putting basic requirements in place that prevent the spread of COVID."
Beyer was likely referring to United Airlines becoming the first American airline to mandate vaccines for its employees. Then on Wednesday, United told employees that anyone saying they could not be vaccinated because of religious exemption would be placed on unpaid leave, CNBC reported.
The release of Beyer's new Safe Travels Act comes on the same day as President Joe Biden announced a series of sweeping measures to fight the surging COVID pandemic.
Biden announced that the Labor Department is developing an emergency rule requiring companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccinations or require weekly tests. It was not immediately clear how this rule will be implemented and if it will negate the need for a law specifically tailored to airlines and Amtrak.
Beyer sits on the House Ways and Means Committee, which holds some jurisdiction over public health policy. Last month, he introduced the Protecting Vulnerable Patients Act, which seeks to require healthcare workers who see Medicare or Medicaid patients to be vaccinated. In 2020 he introduced a provision to a bill that lead to COVID-19 vaccines being free of charge.
Currently, the United States has a federal mask mandate on all public transportation, but no federal public transport vaccine requirement per se. The mask mandate was put into place by Biden's executive order in January. The Transportation Security Administration's current mask mandate is set to expire on September 13, but it has recently been extended until January 18, 2022.
Newsweek reached out to the TSA for comment but did not immediately hear back.
This article originally appeared on Newsweek