To ensure the federal government will not have the power to force Americans to carry documentation of their covid-19 vaccinations, House Republicans have proposed a bill that would ban the usage of “vaccine passports.”
“I am profoundly disturbed that the Biden Administration would even consider imposing vaccine passports on the American people,” Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said in a statement Thursday. “My private healthcare decisions—and yours—are nobody else’s business. Vaccine passports will not help our nation recover from COVID-19; instead, they will simply impose more Big Brother surveillance on our society.”
The legislation would “prevent federal agencies from issuing any standardized documentation that could be used to certify a U.S. citizen’s COVID-19 status to a third party, such as a restaurant or an airline. Additionally, this bill prohibits proof of COVID-19 vaccination from being a requirement for access to federal or congressional property and services.”
The House bill has 18 Republican co-sponsors behind it— Reps. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Greg Steube of Florida, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Ben Cline of Virginia, Yvette Herrell of New Mexico, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Russ Fulcher of Idaho, Chip Roy of Texas, Mary Miller of Illinois, Bill Posey of Florida, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Randy Weber of Texas, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Jody Hice of Georgia.
The “No Vaccine Passport Act” takes inspiration from a number of states that have already moved to ban the usage of vaccine passports. Biggs flaunted Flordia Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision as a key motivator of federal legislation against vaccine passports.
“I especially applaud Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for being an early leader against vaccine passports at the state level. My No Vaccine Passports Act builds on his efforts and will further protect Americans’ privacy rights and fundamental freedoms,” Biggs said.
Idaho became the fourth state to ban proof of vaccination as a requirement to access public services last week, joining Florida, Utah, and Texas.
“Idahoans should be given the choice to receive the vaccine. We should not violate Idahoans’ personal freedoms by requiring them to receive it,” Gov. Brad Little said in a statement. “Vaccine passports create different classes of citizens. Vaccine passports restrict the free flow of commerce during a time when life and the economy are returning to normal. Vaccine passports threaten individual freedom and patient privacy.”
At the same time, the state of New York is experimenting with an app designed to record a negative test or status of vaccination so people can partake in large events such as concerts or sporting events. Entitled the Excelsior Pass and developed in partnership with IBM, the app creates an encrypted QR code that venues can use to scan people into events and confirm someone’s Covid-19 health status.
Piloted at a Brooklyn Nets basketball game at the Barclays Center on Feb. 27, and a New York Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden on March 2, the state hopes the app will help the re-opening process.
“As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for COVID or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in an interview. “The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal.”