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Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., addressed reporters before entering Nashville International Airport for what he said was his first flight since a judge threw out the Biden administration’s mask mandate for public transportation.
Paul, a doctor himself, had long been a fierce opponent of the mask mandate, and a regular challenger of government health officials throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is a happy day! No more masks!” Paul cheered. “We’re seeing nothing but smiles here at the Nashville Airport. People have been tired, sick and tired of wearing the masks. We’re ready to be free again, and thank goodness for a judge who was willing to make the right decision. And the administration is appealing it, but my hope is that we never have to do this again. Congress never gave permission to the CDC to pass this.”
The Republican senator also argued that masks were never effective in the first place, citing data that backed up his claim.
“If you look at the medical studies on masks, what you find is they don’t work. Randomized, controlled studies in Denmark, thousands of people wore masks, thousands of people didn’t, no difference in the incidence of the disease,” Paul said. “Florida, same thing. Half the school districts wore masks, half didn’t. No difference in incidence.”
U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle ruled last week that the mandate was improper for several reasons, including that the statute the CDC relied upon did not give them the power to issue a mask mandate.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., arrives for votes during a rare weekend session to advance the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, at the Capitol in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
“There is no statute that gave the CDC authority. CDC is an agency of government and they have certain powers, but the only powers they have we give them,” he said. “If you look at the statute that enabled the CDC, it says nothing about mandating masks for anyone. So the power was never given to them. Congress is the same way. The Constitution has enumerated powers and the Tenth Amendment says those powers not given explicitly to Congress are reserved for the states and the people. So there’s nothing in the Constitution giving them the police power to mandate masks. Local officials could pass it, but it would have to be a law.”
“It sounds like a minor point but it’s a big point who creates laws,” Paul continued. “You can get rid of your elected officials. How do we get rid of the head of the CDC? They’re unresponsive, unelected bureaucrats.”
Paul said that being a health official does not make one a dictator, saying such is what happens in authoritarian countries.
“In our country, a public health official should give you a recommendation,” he said. “They can give you a recommendation on a mask, but they shouldn’t mandate it.”
Asked how being forced to wear a mask is different from being forced to remove one’s shoes to go through airport security, Paul said that “we’ve had so many freedoms taken away from us,” but that “I think covering the faces has probably been more of an affront to our sensibilities and our freedom than almost anything else that we have to go through.”