Seven members of Texas’ Republican congressional delegation voted against a measure that would have required airlines to rehire pilots who had previously been fired for refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
Earlier this week, legislation to extend the authorization of the Federal Aviation Administration was passed through the U.S. House of Representatives. The broad bill saw many attempted amendments on issues dealing with aviation.
One such amendment, authored by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R–GA) and offered by Rep. Mary Miller (R–IL), stipulated that the FAA must “require air carriers to reinstate any pilot who was fired or forced to resign because of a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”
The amendment failed on a vote of 141-294. But while only one Democrat supported the measure, 83 Republicans voted against the requirement—including seven from Texas.
Those members include U.S. Reps. Jodey Arrington, John Carter, Monica De La Cruz, Jake Ellzey, Tony Gonzales, Michael McCaul, and Randy Weber.
D.C. sources say members were pressured by airline group lobbyists to vote against the amendment, arguing that the decision over rehiring those pilots should be left up to the individual airlines.
Those same airlines, however, received $25 billion in taxpayer funds as part of the CARES Act bailout during the height of COVID, which was justified in part to keep airline workers employed.
Laura Cox, a pilot who helped found Airline Employees 4 Health Freedom, has been fighting airlines’ vaccine mandates in federal court. She says the group is disappointed the amendment failed.
“Hundreds of airline employees, not just pilots, were terminated at United Airlines if they were unsuccessful navigating United’s impersonal and discriminatory online system for obtaining a reasonable accommodation,” Cox told Texas Scorecard.
Those reasonable accommodations include bodily autonomy claims under the Americans with Disability Acts as well as faith-based exemptions under Title XII of the Civil Rights Act.
Airline Employees 4 Health Freedom, a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization, is fighting in federal court against the unreasonable accommodation of unpaid, indefinite leave or termination for anyone who submitted or attempted to submit a reasonable accommodation request at United Airlines.
Cox said the group is helping others fight against the terminations, as well.
“All employees, terminated and those put on unpaid leave, should be restored to their original employment,” said Cox.
The FAA reauthorization bill has now been sent to the Senate, where it must be passed before the end of September.