Nearly 40 maskless House Republican lawmakers walked across the Capitol and onto the Senate floor in protest of the Capitol physician’s decision to reinstate a mask mandate in the lower chamber but not in the upper chamber.
Republicans complained that the policy, backed by Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden pushes back at Democrats on taxes Yarmuth and Clyburn suggest .5T package may be slimmed Of partisan fights and follies, or why Democrats should follow Manchin, not Sanders MORE (D-Calif.) and other Democrats, is inconsistent, infringes on personal liberty, and is based on politics, not science.
However, the body of the 100-member Senate is less than a quarter of the size of the 435-member House, and all but a handful of senators are vaccinated while dozens of House Republicans have refused to say whether they got the vaccine.
Republicans wanted to show “what it was like on the floor of the Senate versus the floor of the House. Obviously, it’s vastly different,” a maskless Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas), who served as former President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE’s White House physician, told The Hill after the protest.
Senators “have the freedom to speak without their mask on and be in there and it's not near as restrictive as it is on the House side. It makes no sense,” he added.
Among the group of Republicans who filed onto the Senate floor were Reps. Lauren BoebertLauren BoebertWatchdog group seeks ethics probe over McCarthy's Jan. 6 comments Jan. 6 panel seeks records of those involved in 'Stop the Steal' rally Jan. 6 panel to ask for preservation of phone records of GOP lawmakers who participated in Trump rally: report MORE (Colo.), Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzRepublicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Washington ramps up security ahead of Sept. 18 rally Police brace for Capitol rally defending Jan. 6 mob MORE (Fla.), Byron Donalds (Fla.), Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (Ga.), Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyGOP leader taking proxy voting fight to Supreme Court Reps. Greene, Roy fined for not wearing masks on House floor Photos of the Week: Afghanistan evacuees, Paralympics and the French fire MORE (Texas), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertRepublicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Security forces under pressure to prevent repeat of Jan. 6 Washington ramps up security ahead of Sept. 18 rally MORE (Texas), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonOn The Money — Yellen sounds alarm on national default GOP lawmakers urge Cardona against executive student loan wipeout House GOP stages mask mandate protest MORE (Ohio), and Freedom Caucus Chairman Andy Biggs (Ariz.).
House Republicans are protesting the mask mandate by walking to the Senate, where masks are not mandated by Capitol physician pic.twitter.com/sFD6AVnbr3— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) July 29, 2021
“At least in the Senate, they're recognizing individual responsibility and following science, not just using this as a political tool,” Rep. Barry LoudermilkBarry LoudermilkOn The Money — Yellen sounds alarm on national default GOP lawmakers urge Cardona against executive student loan wipeout House GOP stages mask mandate protest MORE (R-Ga.) told The Hill. “So, what are we doing: following the science or Pelosi’s political moves? It’s Pelosi’s political moves.”
The GOP lawmakers, who have Senate floor privileges as members of the House, tried to time their protest with a speech by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEconomy adds just 235K jobs in August as delta hammers growth Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit Afghanistan fiasco proves we didn't leave soon enough MORE (R-Utah) on individual freedom.
It came on the same day that the U.S. Capitol Police said that congressional aides and visitors could face arrest if they refuse to wear a mask on the House side of the Capitol complex, including the Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon office buildings. But as of Thursday afternoon, there were zero arrests even as dozens of House lawmakers and staffers walked around the Capitol’s hallways without donning a mask.
Capitol physician Brian Monahan’s new mask rules comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, mostly in red states where the vaccination rate is low. Most of those new cases have been identified as the delta variant, which is much more contagious, health experts have said.
In recent days, two House Republicans have informed their colleagues and staff that they have tested positive for the coronavirus: Reps. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE of Florida and Clay HigginsGlen (Clay) Clay HigginsNY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case Florida Democrat becomes latest breakthrough COVID-19 case in House Louisiana delegation asks for additional relief funding after Ida MORE of Louisiana.
Earlier Thursday, Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserBiden to GOP governors planning vaccine mandate lawsuits: 'Have at it' Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program Biden nominates DC regulator to federal energy commission MORE said masks will once again be required indoors in D.C. starting this weekend. Public school districts across the country, including in the D.C. area, also announced that students, teachers and staff will have to wear masks indoors once kids head back in the fall.
And in a speech Thursday, President BidenJoe BidenCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan Biden pushes back at Democrats on taxes MORE said all federal workers will now be required to verify they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or face mandatory mask wearing and weekly testing.
“It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Biden said at the White House. “People are dying who don’t have to die.”