On Wednesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration over a government mandate requiring that masks be worn at U.S. airports, on airplanes and other public transit.
Paxton and U.S. Representative Beth Van Duyne, both from Texas, filed a lawsuit jointly challenging the CDC’s transit mask rules. The mandates were put into effect in February 2021, a month after President Biden took office.
The current mask mandates are set to expire on March 18.
The CDC mandate requires masks to be worn by travelers two years and older on planes, ships, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares. The mandate further directs individuals to wear a mask inside all transportation hubs, such as airports, bus terminals, train and subway stations, and seaports.
On Wednesday, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said that the agency is considering new COVID-19 guidance, including the requirements for wearing face masks. The CDC expects to issue revised guidelines in late February or early March.
The lawsuit filed by Paxton and Van Duyne names the defendants as the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, Walensky, CDC chief of staff Sherri Berger, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, and the U.S. government as a whole.
Former President Donald Trump refused recommendations from the CDC to impose mask requirements for travel, despite airlines and other transportation modes having already imposed mask requirements.
Republicans in Congress have frequently aimed at ending the mask mandates for travel, which have been the basis of ongoing tensions of air travel. This has been especially true aboard U.S. airlines, as many travelers refuse to wear masks.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says about 6,400 complaints of unruly passengers have been received since the start of 2021. The FAA says that about 4,500 involve passengers not wearing masks.
Transportation hubs are the only remaining places where masks are still required in most states.