21 states file lawsuit to end federal mask mandate for public transportation
By Greg Wallace and Shawna Mizelle, CNN
(CNN) -- A group of 21 states, as well as groups of pilots and flight attendants, are asking federal courts to permanently end the Biden administration's federal transportation mask mandate, less than three weeks before it is set to expire.
The latest lawsuit, led by Florida and joined by 20 other states, asks a federal court in Florida to "issue permanent injunctive relief enjoining Defendants from enforcing the mask mandate." The states' claims include that the policy is an abuse of federal emergency powers.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. The Transportation Security Administration declined to comment.
The lawsuit marks another push by governors around the country to throw out President Joe Biden's federal public health order, which requires travelers to wear masks on airplanes, buses, trains and boats, as well as in airports and other transportation hubs. Last month, Texas filed a separate lawsuit in a longshot bid to scrap the President's Covid-19 health measure.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said in a statement announcing the lawsuit that "it is well past time to get rid of this unnecessary mandate and get back to normal life."
The states joining Florida in the effort include: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
Separately, groups of airline employees have also sued the administration this month seeking to block the mask requirement from ever being re-imposed.
The lawsuits filed by 10 pilots and nine flight attendants ask courts, in identical language, to issue a "permanent injunction prohibiting CDC and Department of Health and Human Services from ever again issuing a mask mandate for any sector of society since Congress has never approved this." The government has not yet filed responses to the lawsuits.
The CEOs of the nation's largest airlines and the union representing Southwest Airlines flight attendants have also urged the Biden administration to lift the measure.
The mandate remains in place through April 18 after the administration issued a one-month extension.
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