Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah voted with a room filled with several bare-faced Democrats on Tuesday to keep the federal mask mandates for toddlers as young as two years old.
During a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing over the bipartisan PREVENT Pandemics Act, Romney voted no to lifting mask and jab mandates in the federal Head Start program.
The current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services standards for the Head Start program require “universal masking for all individuals two years of age and older” and Covid-19 jab proof for all adults involved in the program.
Republican Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana introduced an amendment to the PREVENT Pandemics Act which was was designed to “prevent HHS from implementing or enforcing their regulations regarding mask or vaccination protections in the Head Start program again.”
“After being subjected to federal mask mandates for almost two years, President Biden announced in his State of the Union address under the CDC’s new mask guidelines, most Americans in most of the country can now be mask-free,” Braun said. “I completely agree with him on that. It’s time to get our lives back especially based upon science and not the political science.”
Braun’s amendment was publicly backed by several of his GOP colleagues who noted the low-risk Covid poses to children.
“Really, what we’re doing is just punishing children,” Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky said. “The rest of America is insulted by you telling them that their kids who are not at risk from dying from this disease, are not spreading it, that somehow we’re going to force these kids to keep wearing masks. It’s unscientific, it’s inhumane and it stunting their learning.”
Despite urgings from other Republicans, the amendment ultimately failed. Even though swing Republicans such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins voted to unmask the children, Romney crossed the aisle and helped doom two-year-olds to wearing face coverings even though most adults in cities, schools, and workplaces don’t have to any longer.