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Scott, Rutherford Lead Federal Push To Ban Vaccine Passports at Airports

Passengers head for security screening at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Florida Republicans Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. John Rutherford are proposing the Freedom to Fly Act, which would bar TSA from asking passengers for proof of vaccine status for domestic flights.

Republicans Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. John Rutherford are leading a preemptive effort in Congress to ban so-called "vaccine passports" at airports.

Their legislation, dubbed the Freedom to Fly Act, would bar the Transportation Security Administration from asking passengers for their COVID-19 vaccine status for domestic flights. 

There is no federally recognized COVID-19 vaccine passport — documentation proving that one has been vaccinated — and the White House has said it has no plans to develop one.

TSA currently doesn't require proof that passengers have been vaccinated.

However, in a statement Wednesday introducing the proposal, Scott stressed the importance of personal privacy and that air travel was key to getting the economy "fully reopened" as the pandemic wanes.

“While I continue to encourage everyone who wants one to get the vaccine, the federal government has no business requiring travelers to turn over their personal medical information to catch a flight," Scott said in a statement. "My Freedom to Fly Act ensures families in Florida and across the country can travel freely and without the ridiculous government bureaucracy created by vaccine passports.”

 Scott has said he expects to get bipartisan support for the legislation.

Rutherford introduced a House version of bill on Thursday.

“The TSA has no right to compel American travelers to disclose sensitive health information,” Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, said in a news release. “This includes vaccination records, or so-called ‘vaccine passports.’ Our freedoms as Americans must not be sacrificed under the guise of public safety.”

Several Republican-controlled legislatures, including Florida’s, have banned vaccine passports across all industries. 

In May, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz , Mike Braun and Cynthia Lummis introduced a bill banning the federal government from establishing vaccine passports or working with airlines or other entities to create them.

Contact Sydney Boles at sboles@wjct.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.

Copyright 2021 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.

Sydney Boles
Sydney is joining WJCT News from Ohio Valley ReSource, a collaborative of NPR stations covering Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia; where she was a producer and reporter, covering economic issues in the Appalachian coalfields.
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