Cruz is leading a group of Republican senators who are introducing a bill calling on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to end the mask requirement for travelers.
The CDC issued updated guidance on COVID-19 mask-wearing in May, saying that fully vaccinated people could go without face coverings in most indoor and outdoor settings but masks continue to be required on forms of transportation.
Cruz issued a statement on Friday to accompany the lawmakers’ resolution.
“Over 150 million people in the United States are fully vaccinated and mask mandates have been lifted across the country,” Cruz said.
“But the CDC inexplicably still hasn’t lifted the mask mandate for public transportation. It’s long past time for President Biden and the CDC to follow the science and end this mask mandate for fully vaccinated individuals.
“Americans should be able to travel to celebrate Independence Day with their friends and loved ones without having to follow an outdated and unnecessary mandate,” Cruz said.
Biden had previously set July 4 as the deadline for the administration’s goal of having at least 70 percent of Americans with one shot of the COVID vaccine but recently admitted it will not now meet that goal. However, around 65 percent of adults have been at least partially vaccinated, according to CNBC.
The CDC issued a sweeping mask mandate for public transport following Biden’s executive order on the pandemic on January 21 – the day after he took the oath of office. That order came into effect on February 1.
Though CDC advice has been updated since the order on public transport was issued, the mask-wearing requirements for buses, airplanes, trains and other forms of transport remain in place.
Marty Cetron, director for CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine, explained the rationale behind the decision in the 11-page written order on January 29.
“Requiring masks on our transportation systems will protect Americans and provide confidence that we can once again travel safely even during this pandemic,” Cetron said.
The CDC updated its advice on June 10 to say that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks while outdoors at transportation hubs such as bus stations but that unvaccinated people should continue to do so.
Cruz, who is the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation Safety, Operations, and Innovation, called legal requirements for mask-wearing on airplanes “performative theater” on June 16.
Newsweek has asked the White House, Senator Ted Cruz and the CDC for comment.