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Biden administration opposes overturning COVID-19 vaccine entry requirements

Virus Outbreak Travel Passports Explainer
Posted at 4:18 PM, Feb 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-07 19:19:39-05

Non-U.S. citizens who are not permanent residents of the U.S. have been required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering the country.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration said it opposes House Resolution 185, which would remove the government’s ability to enforce the requirement. The opposition comes despite the administration saying it plans to end the United States’ COVID-19 emergency declaration this spring.

“This policy has allowed loved ones across the globe to reunite while reducing the spread of COVID-19 and the burdens it places on the health care system in the United States,” the Biden administration said on Tuesday.

The bill has garnered 29 Republican cosponsors. While not a cosponsor, House Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee Chair Brett Guthrie said it’s time for the mandate to end.

“It is long past due to end this mandate,” Guthrie said. “Doing so will align the United States with the rest of North America’s COVID-19 vaccine policy for people coming into the country and recognize COVID-19 is an endemic—rather than a pandemic.”

The World Health Organization still considers COVID-19 a pandemic disease rather than an endemic one but has recognized that the virus is in a “transition” phase.

As Guthrie noted, many nations have ended vaccination requirements for entry in recent months. Among them, Canada ended all COVID-19 border restrictions in October.

In addition to the vaccine requirement, the U.S. has kept Title 42 in place despite the Biden administration's attempts to end it. Title 42 allowed border officials to turn away asylum seekers immediately at the border due to the pandemic.

Republicans have argued that Title 42 should remain in place, even though many GOP lawmakers have said it’s time for the U.S. to move on from the pandemic. They argue, however, the U.S. is ill-prepared to handle an influx of asylum seekers.