Rand Paul wants to overrule DC's COVID safety measures

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Five Senate Republicans are backing a bill to lift vaccine requirements imposed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and four of his GOP colleagues have introduced a bill titled the Restore Parental and Consumer Medical Rights in the Nation's Capital Act that would overrule the District of Columbia's local government and repeal COVID-19 safety requirements for schools and public accommodations.

Rand and his original co-sponsors — Sens. Kevin Cramer (ND), James Lankford (OK), Rick Scott (FL), and Roger Wicker (MS) — have previously claimed to support local control over educational policy. None of them represent states anywhere near Washington.

The bill would overrule Mayor Muriel Bowser's December executive order requiring proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter dining, drinking, entertainment, exercise, recreational, event, and meeting establishments. It would also repeal the council's Jan. 12 legislation requiring that all school students and child development facility employees be vaccinated.

Both mandates already contain exceptions for anyone with a medical or religious exemption and those too young to get vaccinated.

Paul, who is an ophthalmologist, has himself refused to get immunized and has repeatedly spread false information about COVID-19 vaccines.

Each of the five sponsors of the bill has explicitly said that the federal government should stay out of decision-making on issues concerning schooling.

On his official Senate website, Paul says, "I believe in more local control over education, where states, localities, and parents can play a much more significant role in their children's schooling."

Wicker's Senate site says:

I believe the federal government should place an emphasis on education, but most decisions should be left to parents and state or local officials. Whatever steps we take on a national level must empower local school administrators, teachers, and parents to make the best decisions for their students and children.

As Florida governor, Scott vowed in 2014, "We're not gonna have the federal government telling us how to do our education system."

In a speech on the Senate floor in 2015, Lankford opined, "Parents, local districts and states should set education policy."

That same year, then-Rep. Cramer said in a statement that he backed an education reform bill because it "returns control of education to where it belongs, in the hands of parents and local school districts. Local flexibility and local control allows parents and school districts to address local challenges and more effectively use educational resources."

Under the U.S. Constitution, the District of Columbia has no representation in the U.S. Senate.

Republicans have blocked efforts to give statehood to the more than 670,000 people living in the city's residential section.

A 1973 federal law gives the elected D.C. government "home rule" authority to make its own laws, but gives Congress the power to overrule those local decisions.

This latest attempt by GOP lawmakers to meddle in D.C. affairs comes as the city has seen a massive wave of new cases of the COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Hospitals are enduring historic levels of strain on their facilities and have few intensive care unit beds available.

And in the past month, there has been a spike of hundreds of COVID-19 cases in the D.C. public schools.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.