The House of Representatives has voted against an amendment that would have forced airlines to rehire pilots that had been fired for refusing to comply with their COVID-19 vaccine mandate during the pandemic.
Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene brought forward the amendment to the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, which reauthorized the FAA through to 2028.
“Hundreds of pilots were forced out of their livelihoods over the past several years for their refusal to get COVID vaccine,” Greene said when she filed her amendment this week. “They were denied medical freedom to decide whether they should take the experimental COVID vaccine or lose their job.”
But despite her arguments, the House voted against the amendment by 294-141, with 83 Republicans voting alongside Democrats to strike it down. Only one Democrat, Rep. Jared Golden of Maine, voted in favor.
“We have a pilot shortage straining the aviation industry and my amendment sought to alleviate these stressors by rehiring experienced and qualified aviators who were fired only for refusing to have the COVID jab forced upon them,” Greene wrote on Twitter after the amendment failed.
“This was a common sense amendment that should have received bipartisan support in the House, but it’s especially unfortunate that 83 Republicans voted against medical freedom and working to solve the pilot shortage affecting the aviation workforce and American travellers,” she added.
A separate amendment to the bill brought by Rep. Mary Miller that would have restrict funding for diversity, equity and inclusion officials in the FAA also failed by 254-181, being opposed by many of the same Republicans.
Last May, a lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of Florida against the Department of Transport and New York-based cargo flight company Atlas Air over the vaccine mandates. The suit included 100 plaintiffs and was put forth by the US Freedom Flyers, a group primarily comprised of unvaccinated pilots and flight attendants. According to the group, the suit was intended to argue “whether Americans should be required to choose between their livelihoods and being coerced into taking an experimental, dangerous medical treatment.”
The case also looked into the safety of the airline industry itself, with the plaintiffs expressing concerns about pilots experiencing the potential side-effects of the vaccine while operating aircrafts.
“Should pilots—under federal regulation required to be among the healthiest workers in the United States—who have taken an experimental ‘vaccine’ that is now shown to have potentially deadly, long-term side effects, be allowed to fly massive aircraft in our skies? While those who have (smartly) refrained from such a course be forced out of their jobs?”
The plaintiffs eventually filed for voluntary dismissal only a few months after the suit was filed.