Congress will not reinstate pilots fired over Biden's vaccine mandate amid massive pilot shortage

The amendment failed by a vote of 294 to 141.

Jarryd Jaeger Vancouver, BC
Late Wednesday night the House of Representatives voted not to reinstate airline pilots who lost their jobs for refusing to comply with the Biden administration's vaccine mandate.

The move comes as the United States' aviation industry continues to suffer due in large part to a shortage of captains in cockpits.

Members of the House convened on Wednesday to debate and vote on the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act, HR 3935. While the night ended with the legislation being left as "unfinished business," a number of proposed amendments had their fates decided.

Among them was Amendment 36, requested by Illinois Rep. Mary Miller on behalf of Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, which would "require airlines to reinstate pilots who were fired or forced to resign because of vaccine mandates."

The proposition failed by a vote of 294 to 141. On the Democrats' side, all but one voted against the proposed amendment, while Republicans were more split, with 140 saying "yea" and 83 saying "nay."

HR 3935 was introduced in June to help ease some of the pain the American aviation industry has felt since the pandemic. It seeks to direct the Federal Aviation Administration to increase air traffic controller hiring targets, raise the pilot retirement age from 65 to 67. The proposed legislation would also bar the FAA from "requiring mask wearing or Covid-19 vaccines for passengers, air carrier employees, or FAA employees."

During the pandemic, airlines across the country instituted vaccine mandates, and for the post part there was a high rate of compliance. That being said, a consequential number of employees were let go for refusing to comply. As Forbes reports, United Airlines alone terminated 232 members of its staff for that reason, many among them pilots.

As NPR reports, those who opposed getting the jab voiced their concerns about potential longterm side effects, but were largely dismissed and told the safety of the vaccines had been clearly established.

United Airlines did allow unvaccinated employees who received an exemption to return to work in 2022, but not those who refused for unapproved reasons.
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