Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Thursday responded to a former Obama administration official who is calling for a federal "no-fly list" for Americans who have not had a COVID-19 vaccine, calling the idea "obscene."
"If we now disagree in our personal medical decision with the left they're going to declare that we're a terrorist and that we can't fly," Paul said on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" Thursday morning.
"Even the CDC says you're not supposed to get vaccinated if you've been infected within three months. So what are you going to do? Tell people they can't fly for three months even according to the CDC?" he asked.
Writing in an op-ed for The Atlantic this week, former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Juliette Kayyem said that since the White House has refused to implement a nationwide vaccine mandate, "a no-fly list for unvaccinated adults is an obvious step that the federal government should take."
Kayyem argued that existing Transportation Security Administration rules have created a precedent for prohibiting certain individuals from flying.
"When you go to the airport, you see two kinds of security rules. Some apply equally to everyone; no one can carry weapons through the TSA checkpoint," Kayyem wrote. "But other protocols divide passengers into categories according to how much of a threat the government thinks they pose. If you submit to heightened scrutiny in advance, TSA PreCheck lets you go through security without taking off your shoes; a no-fly list keeps certain people off the plane entirely. Not everyone poses an equal threat. Rifling through the bags of every business traveler and patting down every preschooler and octogenarian would waste the TSA's time and needlessly burden many passengers."
She further said that "flying is not a right" and that the "same principle" behind TSA regulations should animate the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"The federal government is the sole entity that can regulate the terms and conditions of airline safety," she wrote, adding that requiring air passengers to show proof of vaccination would be a "minor inconvenience."
But Paul pointed out that under such a policy individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and who the CDC recommends should not get a vaccine dose until three months after their infection would be prohibited from flying.
The senator, an ophthalmologist, said that he and other doctors believe an individual's natural immunity from COVID-19 infection will "last a lot longer" than three months, so barring people who have recovered from COVID from flying is unreasonable.
"This idiot would have us not flying for three months, so it makes no sense," said Paul. "It's complete collectivism and all of these people are the same people who hooted and hollered and said, 'Trump is leading us to authoritarianism.'
"What could be more authoritarian than a no-fly list for people who disagree with you?"