An Ohio congressman wants to crack down on so-called vaccine passports that document whether someone has been inoculated against COVID-19 and other diseases.
Republican U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson of Troy introduced legislation Thursday that would bar federal agencies, state governments and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination in exchange for services or employment. The concept has become the latest flashpoint in the debate between public health and individual liberties that defined much of the pandemic.
New York, for example, created a mobile pass that businesses and event venues can scan to ensure the person meets their safety requirements.
But so-called "vaccine passports" have drawn rebukes from Republicans who contend they violate personal freedoms.
Under the proposal, federal agencies wouldn't be allowed to issue vaccine passports, nor would state or local governments that receive federal coronavirus relief funds. Businesses could not require proof of vaccination as a condition for goods and services and would be denied federal grants or contracts for two years if they violate the rule.
The ban wouldn't apply to health care, schools or the U.S. Department of Defense, although schools would need to offer exemptions.
Davidson's measure goes further than one introduced earlier this year by Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs, which dictates only what the federal government could do. He said it aims to curb discrimination against non-vaccinated individuals and ensure people can keep their medical decisions private.
"Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen states deny Americans a republican form of government in the name of public health," Davidson said. "Now that the pandemic is over, they are trying to maintain power. Banning vaccine passports has become sadly necessary to thwart these naked power grabs seeking to enable even more control for big government and big business over the lives of individual Americans."
Davidson's district was formerly held by House Speaker John Boehner.
Davidson won re-election in November 2020 with 69% of the vote. He has been mentioned as a possible Republican primary opponent for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, introduces bill to ban vaccine passports