U.S. should require COVID-19 vaccine or negative test for domestic air travelers, lawmakers say

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A U.S. flag is reflected on the floor as passengers make their way through Reagan National Airport in Washington, U.S., July 1, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Three dozen Democratic lawmakers on Friday urged President Joe Biden to require domestic airline passengers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or show a negative test result.

"This is a necessary and long overdue step toward ensuring all Americans feel safe and confident while traveling and reduce the chances of yet another devastating winter surge," said the letter from members of Congress led by Representatives Don Beyer and Ritchie Torres and Senator Dianne Feinstein.

On Monday, the United States imposed new requirements for nearly all foreign nationals flying to the United States to show proof of vaccination as well as proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The Biden administration also lifted travel restrictions that barred most foreign nationals from the United States who had recently been in China, Brazil, South Africa, Iran and much of Europe.

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Asked why the administration was not imposing any requirements on domestic air travel, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday, "Everything is on the table. We just don’t have any announcement to preview right now on this."

The letter, signed by senior Democrats including Representatives Jerrold Nadler, Adam Schiff, David Cicilline, Barbara Lee and Eleanor Holmes Norton, praised the administration's adoption of international air vaccine requirements.

"Applying similar strategies to domestic air travel would ensure Americans can travel safely to see their loved ones during the holidays while also limiting household introduction and spread of COVID-19 from visiting family and friends," the letter said.

Last week, the Biden administration said it would not enforce a deadline for federal contractors including major U.S. airlines to ensure their employees are vaccinated against COVID-19 until Jan. 4.

Both American Airlines (AAL.O) and Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) said they would push back employee deadlines until then.

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Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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