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White House calls federal ruling to toss mask mandate ‘a disappointing decision’

The White House said the federal court ruling Monday to void the Biden administration’s mask mandate for travelers using public transportation such as trains and airplanes was “obviously a disappointing decision” in light of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommending its order for passengers to wear face coverings be extended.

A federal judge on Monday voided the Biden administration’s transportation mask mandate from the CDC, which applies to people as young as 2 years old, and had been set to expire a number of times. The order was recently extended to May 3 before Monday’s ruling.

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS MASK MANDATE FOR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

“The CDC recommended continuing the order for additional time two weeks to be able to assess the latest science in keeping with its responsibility to protect the American people, so, this is obviously a disappointing decision,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. “The CDC continues recommending wearing a mask in public transit.” 

The ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle came in a case brought in Florida federal court by Health Freedom Defense Fund, Inc. and frequent air travelers Ana Daza and Sarah Pope against the administration.

Judge Mizelle determined that the mandate violated the Administrative Procedure Act by being outside the scope of the CDC’s authority, was “arbitrary” and “capricious” and not going through the required notice and comment period for federal rulemaking.

CDC EXTENDING TRAVEL MASK MANDATE 15 MORE DAYS

It remains to be seen whether the administration will appeal the decision. 

Fox News’ Peter Doocy pressed Psaki during the press briefing Monday asking, “Why is it that we can sit here in the White House briefing room with no masks, but people can’t sit in an airplane cabin with no masks?”

Psaki responded by citing the CDC’s green, yellow and red mask guidance to determine precautions to take based on specific COVID-19 community levels. She explained that Washington, D.C., is a “green zone,” so the CDC is not recommending that masks be worn.

The White House press secretary also stated that Biden administration is “reviewing the decision,” and added that the Justice Department will “make any determinations about litigation.”

Psaki added that the administration had ordered a two-week extension to “look at the data and make recommendations based on the data, on the science, about whether [the order] should be continued or not.” 

The CDC last week extended the mandate for an additional 15 days due to a recent increase in cases of COVID-19. The Biden administration had previously extended the federal mask mandate to April 18 in early March. 

“CDC continues to monitor the spread of the Omicron variant, especially the BA.2 subvariant that now makes up more than 85% of U.S. cases,” said CDC spokesperson Kristen Nordlund. “Since early April, there have been increases in the 7-day moving average of cases in the U.S.  In order to assess the potential impact the rise of cases has on severe disease, including hospitalizations and deaths, and health care system capacity, the CDC Order will remain in place at this time. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has decided to extend the security directive and emergency amendment for 15 days, through May 3, 2022.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters during the daily news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House on April 06, 2022 in Washington, DC. Psaki fielded questions about the failure of a COVID-19 funding bill to pass out of the U.S. Senate.

The federal travel mask mandate has remained in place even as all 50 states have announced plans to end mask mandates.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Gillian Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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