GOP senator compares vaccine mandates to 35 mph speed limit


Republican lawmakers have been working to undermine efforts to mitigate COVID-19 at all levels of government.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on Friday negatively compared vaccine mandates to speed limits during an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box," only to be reminded by a reporter that speed limits exist across America.

While discussing the idea of "personal liberty" and Republicans' opposition to vaccine requirements, host Andrew Ross Sorkin asked Cassidy, "Who said that you have the liberty to give me COVID?"

"We would save a lot of lives if everybody drove 35 miles an hour. If the federal government had a mandate, you're going to drive 35 miles per hour, and if you go above it, you're totally busted — in fact, we're going to put a governor on your car so that you cannot exceed 35 miles an hour, we would save a lot of lives," Cassidy replied.

Co-host Becky Quick then pointed out to Cassidy, "Senator, we do have speed limits."

Cassidy acknowledged the fact, arguing that speed limits have increased over time because people disobeyed them. "You're going to have more accidents with more personal liberty," Cassidy added.

He then pointed to local and corporate mandates as his preferred route, rather than a national mandate from the federal government. "We've never had the federal government reach in to the private business and dictate that kind of, OK, in the tilt between personal liberty and public health, the federal government weighs in. That's my concern," he concluded.

The federal government instituted a national speed limit of 55 miles per hour in 1974 in an effort to reduce gas consumption following the 1973 oil embargo against the United States by Arab members of OPEC in response to U.S. involvement with Israel during and after the Arab-Israeli War. After that law was fully repealed in 1995, data analysis showed an increase in road fatalities attributable to the policy change.

And even with the repeal at the federal level, every state in the country has speed limits and government-imposed penalties for not abiding by them.

In the case of mandates put in place to fight COVID-19, such as vaccine mandates and other rules on COVID-related policies like masking, local rulings have been under fire from Cassidy's fellow Republicans.

New Hampshire GOP Gov. Chris Sununu signed a law that prohibits his state from denying access to public sites to those who are unvaccinated. Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has fought against anti-COVID policies put in place by Florida municipalities led by Democrats, has even given a "reprieve" to people who have been arrested for violating safety regulations. Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott has issued executive orders banning vaccine mandates in his state.

Fueled in part by Republican resistance to safety measures and mandates, the latest waves of the virus have disproportionately affected conservative regions in America.

In response to infection spikes in those states and around the country, President Joe Biden has promoted vaccine mandates at the federal level to fight the virus, though they currently stand blocked by a federal court.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.