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Legislative Updates

Congress introduces bill to provide free N95 masks

On Jan. 12, the Masks for All Act of 2022 (H.R. 6385/S. 3486), which would provide, manufacture and distribute high-quality N95 masks for every individual in the United States using the Defense Production Act and other means, was introduced in Congress. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) introduced H.R. 6385 and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) introduced S. 3486. The legislation currently has 41 Democratic cosponsors in the House and 17 Democratic cosponsors in the Senate.

The bills, which were first introduced in 2020, would provide every person in the United States with a free package of N95 masks, including those who are experiencing homelessness and those living in group settings, like prisons, dorms and assisted living facilities. This legislation would provide individuals with N95 masks at designated pickup sites. No proof of identification or citizenship would be required to receive a mask. These masks would have adjustable sizing, including sizes for children. Additionally, the legislation would require the plan’s administrators to submit weekly progress reports to Congress that include updates on funding, mask supply, mask distribution and more.

“N95 masks provide maximum protection against the Omicron variant and are necessary at this stage of the pandemic,” Rep. Khanna said. “We can save tens of thousands of lives by simply making the equipment people need free and easily accessible. If we’re asking folks to wear a mask, it’s on us to provide one.”

“We are proposing that we do what our public health experts and scientists say we must do: provide all of our people with high-quality, N95 masks without cost, which could prevent death and suffering and save huge amounts of health care dollars,” Sen. Sanders said.

NALC will continue to monitor this legislation and provide letter carriers with any future updates. 

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