Braun among GOP lawmakers sponsoring bill to ban federal mask mandates

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Indiana Sen. Mike Braun and a handful of other Republican U.S. lawmakers are pushing a bill to ban federal mask mandates for domestic air travel, public transit systems and schools.

The moves came amid a new surge of COVID-19 cases across the country—including in Indiana—that has led to the fear of renewed mask mandates.

Braun, along with Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) are co-sponsoring the Senate bill, introduced on Tuesday as the “Freedom to Breathe Act.” Rep. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) is also listed as a sponsor for legislation in the U.S. House.

The lawmakers said they were offering the bill to push back at the imposition of new mask mandates at both the local and federal levels.

“We’re not going to go back to the top-down government overreach we saw during COVID,” Braun said in a statement Wednesday. “Congress needs to say forcefully that these ineffective, unscientific mask mandates are not coming back in any way, shape, or form.”

Braun says new mask mandates are “rising trend”

It’s still unclear whether any federal mask mandates are close to being imposed, however. But a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases across the U.S. has prompted some schools and private companies to bring back mask requirements.

When asked by the Indiana Capital Chronicle what’s fueling his concerns—and why he believes more mask mandates are coming—Braun’s office referred to various news articles about recent re-institutions of mask mandates around the country, “showing the trend is on the rise.”

Specifically, the senator’s staff noted New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan’s warning this week that the Ba.2.86 COVID-19 variant is “likely to evade immunity that has developed from vaccination or prior infection,” while a city health official told the Daily Mail it would be a “good idea” to mask up in crowded indoor places over the holiday weekend.

Braun’s office also referenced an elementary school just outside Washington, D.C., that is reinstating school masks for third-graders after a handful of students recently tested positive for COVID-19. They also pointed to some colleges and universities—like Rutgers and Georgetown, as well as Morris Brown College in Atlanta—that independently reinstated mask mandates this fall in response to rising COVID-19 cases.

Braun’s office also emphasized that guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “has not changed, despite masks not being shown to be (effective) at stopping transmission.”

In a separate statement, Vance pointed to “multiple entities within our government” and “within the public health bureaucracy”—including schools around in Washington, D.C.—where mask mandates are being reimposed.

“This is coming back unless we stop it from happening,” Vance said.

Other Hoosier GOP hopefuls reject mask mandates, too

Braun’s office said in a Wednesday news release that Vance will force Senate floor consideration of the bill on Thursday, adding that objection to the act would amount to a “clear admission that Democrats intend to reimpose mask mandates in the near term.”

The legislation would sunset at the end of 2024, and would not apply to hospitals or nursing homes.

Braun joins other Hoosier Republicans who have been outspoken against mask requirements since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most recently, former Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said last week that he would not require people in public universities, businesses, government offices, or churches to wear face coverings.

Hill, like Braun, is currently vying for Republican nomination in Indiana’s 2024 gubernatorial race.

“We learned a lot in the aftermath of the pandemic in 2020. The key takeaway is that government-imposed sanctions on our personal liberties do more harm than good,” he said on WIBC’s talk radio show “Kendall and Casey.” “The problem that we have is that we are witnessing a federal government that lied to us about masks along with their use and effectiveness so we have lost the trust of our institutions.”

In 2020, while Hill was still acting as the state attorney general, he also called for a special legislative session to combat GOP Gov. Eric Holcomb’s pandemic-related executive orders—including those pertaining to masking.

The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.

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34 thoughts on “Braun among GOP lawmakers sponsoring bill to ban federal mask mandates

  1. Spend your time focusing on more relevant issues, Senator Braun. Most of Indiana thinks you’re a bumbling idiot already, and focusing on issues like this won’t help your gubernatorial campaign.

    1. People who believe masks do anything are far greater bumbling idiots that Braun could even aspire to be.

  2. No, Senator Braun, opposition to such a bill would not mean an imminent reimposition of mask requirements. It could mean the option is being left open for future consideration.
    What garbage bills like this do bring about is public shaming of those of us who might wear a mask in public for reasons other than COVID. Like, maybe after COVID someone has developed asthma, a common long COVID problem. So that person wears a mask when allergens are elevated, or maybe there is smoke pouring down from Canada. And all this garbage commentary from the radical wrong (no they aren’t right) gives some people the belief that they are free to attack that person and criticize them for being a Democratic dupe. Really folks, all that person wants to be able to do is breathe when outside…

    1. “Long COVID” is a delusion that only affects people of a certain persuasion.

      We all know the main reason for the masks: do again get people scared, compliant, and willing to subjugate themselves for another round of election rigging.

    2. Thanks Michael. It’s amazing how microscopic, almost subatomic pathogens just fall out of one’s mouth through the very act of existing (let along talking or eating), but paper and cloth will stop it all from happening.

      My meager brain just can’t wrap itself around these concepts, but it’s great that so many scientists are able to do it for me, and make the world a better place at the same time. I wish I could understand them as well as you do.

  3. this used to be a tenant of what it was to be an American, freedom to choose for themselves. Want to wear mask wear it, if not don’t. No shame just choice. We’re all big people and no longer need a nanny to dictate and given the questionable effectiveness of masks let alone vaccines it seems common sense to ban mandates of any kind…..

    1. A R–

      You’re right. There’s absolutely no question that the vaccines were overwhelmingly ineffective.

    2. Sacrificing for the greater good used to be the tenant of being a patriot.

      Now being selfish and purposefully uneducated is considered being a patriot?


    3. Lauren – Except imperial research says that they were incredibly effective. Like, it’s not a debate, it’s just fact. Sorry that it doesn’t fit nicely into your worldview.

    4. lol time again we (and I’m including corporations here too) have proven we need a nanny to save us from ourselves. good grief.

    5. A R and JJ Frankie —

      I’m deeply sorry to have insulted your religion.

      What is “imperial research”? Is that to be contrasted with “metric research”?

      There’s no such thing as a greater good. All it does is create willful blindness to “lesser” evils, which often aren’t lesser.

      What sacrifice are you making, JJ? Lecturing other people requires you to give absolutely nothing. Talk is cheap.

      Help educate me into the scientific benefits of face diapers. You all were wearing them everywhere you went for 2+ years, and y’all still got COVID. Thankfully it’s not a very serious disease for 99% of the population.

  4. And, the science behind this proposal is, at best, weak. It stems from a study from Cochrane Library which has been trashed in the peer review process, but it was widely reported by that paragon of truthful reporting, Fox. You know, the network that reported the Pentagon wouldn’t pay to bring home the remains of a US soldier, and so reported even after the story had been refuted by the soldier’s family. You know, the station that paid almost One Billion Dollars in one settlement of fraudulent reporting leading to defamation, and still faces more such litigation.

    The five studies compiled in the Cochrane report were found to lack sufficient scientific safeguards to be meaningful. Nor were there control groups for the studies. Meanwhile, pretty much every other study found the masks to be useful and effacacious. That’s the medical/legal standard.

    1. Tim–

      Ever the predictable leftist, the science is overwhelmingly weak

      Even CNN–that paragon of Deep-Staterism–can barely control their smirk when interviewing Clown Fauci about his latest goofball rationalization on why masks are helpful. Why do you continue to pretend that Fauci himself A) said masks were pointless 3 years ago and B) was caught with his mask down on numerous occasions.

      Oh, we know why–because you like the politics that come along with mask wearing.

      This time around we will mock you and laugh at you because you ARE wearing the banner of a cultist.

    1. Please get jabbed again this winter Charles. And again and again. It’s doing your party wonders.

      I never thought I’d be in a position to want to defend someone as uncharismatic as Braun, but then I remember the claque of bobbleheads at the increasingly ideologically compromised IBJ.

      Did we ever learn why Bob Saget and Lisa Marie Presley died suddenly? Or why Jamie Foxx was such a close call? Or why, by winter of 2022, the vaccinated were actually getting Omicron COVID at hire rates than the unvaxxed?

      No, y’all don’t get COVID amnesty. Your entire moral framework from 2020 to 2022 was based on a mountain of lies, as usual, which you used to destroy other people.

    2. Yes, we learned all of that, Lauren. But go on spreading … whatever nonsense you’ve got.

      But worry not, your kind are mysteriously dying off faster than those vaccinated folks. Wonder why.

    3. Joe B–

      They really aren’t. The vaccines didn’t work as a prophylactic. They elevate the risk of myocarditis (which is far more dangerous than COVID), and most of y’all still got sick. In the final iteration of Variant Alpha-Chi-Omega, the majority of hospitalizations were people vaxxed and boosted. Imagine that: a compromised heart AND it didn’t keep you from getting COVID.

      I know this is a religion for y’all, but it does make you look silly. Then again, denim jeans and holy hairdos look silly among the Pentacostals. But at least they believe in a higher authority than themselves and those hilarious “experts”.

    4. “They really aren’t”.

      Your inability to back up that assertion – that unvaccinated Trump voters were not dying off at a faster rate than vaccinated Biden voters – is striking.

      It’s Trump’s greatest accomplishment of his term and he can’t take credit for it because most of his supporters are loons. Pity, that.

      But go on telling me how silly I am because I’m not pure enough for your cult.

      “No such thing as a greater good”.

      Yet you believe that the government should enforce the societal norms you desire. If not for the greater good, is it just for the laughs, the joy you get from watching someone else get hurt?

    5. Joe–

      I believe the government should allow societal norms to enforce themselves.

      You’re free to show your cult support and wear a mask while walking down the street. Private businesses can enforce it. But public spaces, including transit and schools and regulated airspace, should not be able to mandate this nonsense.

      As for my inability to back up an assertion…?

      I don’t believe a word your legacy media news sources say. And you don’t believe a word mine say. We operate in two entirely different spheres of knowledge.

      All I know is that the legacy media to which you remain so beholden calls everything else “misinformation”–a word that was scarcely ever used 5 years ago–and because I believe the legacy media is nothing but lying scum, I believe that everything they call “misinformation” is mostly or completely true.

      And they still are claiming that Jeffrey Epstein hanged himself in his prison cell. *facepalm*

      America’s greatest schlub, Alex Jones (of all people), stated back in June that he believed a push for mask mandates was on the horizon. Are you going to pretend that he wasn’t correct? It’s happening as we speak. He understands how people of your ilk tick. It really isn’t hard, since it’s only one brain.

      Anybody with a reasonably good understanding of human nature would know that masks were never about health. They were about signaling whose team you belong to. And used as a cudgel for those who didn’t agree.

      Why did 90% of the people clamoring for vaccines in 2021-22 not get one this past winter? If they were so effective and COVID “has never truly left us”, why did they stop?

      Let’s remember that the vaccine was conceived under #45 (Operation Warp Speed) and your hivemind said “NO we aren’t taking it” until your God Keebler Elf piped in, and then it was like a sacrament. #45 said the vax was probably good for some people but never wanted it mandated, but his followers still overwhelmingly said “heck no” and spurned it (and his recommendation) as much as they could until the leftist jackboots prevented it.

      I take joy in karma…in people suffering the consequences of their poor decisions, because that is how they, you, and I all learn…just as I take joy and people being rewarded for diligence, integrity and good judgment. Look up the name “Shivanthi Santhanandan” sometime. A Minneapolis councilmember (Democrat Farm Labor), she got carjacked in her crime-ridden cesspool of a home, broke her leg and lacerations to her face, in front of her screaming children. She also has vociferously advocated for anti-cop policy in her city, including defunding the police. Such a shame that her kids got stuck with such a stupid mother.

    6. You’re not going to see mask mandates past hospitals. I don’t think you’ll see them in schools, though I could see schools trying them for a 1-2 week basis if/when the rates of students out sick approaches where the only other alternative is closing the school a few days.

      Of all the issues the Senate has to deal with at the moment, this is so far down the list that it’s little wonder that folks who can’t accomplish are excited about this since it gives them a chance to prove they’re worth the taxpayer salary and pension they’re earning. Then again, Braun, Vance, and Hawley are out of their depth and are even less useful than Dianne Feinstein or Mitch McConnell, which isn’t meant as praise for anyone mentioned.

      I’m not sure what conspiracy theories that you’re high on at the moment since you never share those sources, but sources from the gamut from NPR to Breitbart have reported that, in fact, those Trump voters have died off at a faster rate since COVID vaccines became available.

      I really don’t take joy in that. Then again, I’ve always been more pro-life than you.

  5. It’s no wonder we get nothing done in this country but blaming the other side. This is such a waste of time and effort. Move on to things that really matter. Get something done instead of posturing.

  6. Typical Braunism – our senator and wannabe governor running on his record of pandering to his base without any constructive legislation to accompany his constant grandstanding.

  7. Looks like political posturing before a November election.

    Instead of a bill against mandates, he could have pushed a bill to require choice. Same result, but one works to bring people together versus the other that causes conflict. We need actual leaders that want to make America work for all Americans.

    So many real issues to bring our state and country together, but instead, we get more political posturing driving division.

    1. “We need actual leaders that want to make America work for all Americans.”

      Was that what various political leaders were doing when they punished people who refused to submit to an experimental drug, by removing them from their jobs?

      Why wasn’t it “political posturing driving division” in 2021?

  8. Has Braun passed any meaningful legislation or does he just glom on to the culture war topic of the day, or in this case, yesterday? We have over 25,000 dead Hoosiers from Covid. There is plenty of scientific research on mask effectiveness if you look over the range of studies. At worst, there are studies which have been inconclusive. That’s not the same as ineffective. Either we care about citizens health and well being or we don’t. Braun clearly does not. And launching a preemptive strike for something that is not going to happen anyway is just playing political games.

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