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 to take part in CNN town hall in Baltimore Manchin on finishing agenda by Halloween: 'I don't know how that would happen' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Build Back Better items on chopping block 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 TrumpTrump goes after Cassidy after saying he wouldn't support him for president in 2024 Jan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups 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 BoebertRepublicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' Democrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Colorado remap plan creates new competitive district MORE (Colo.), Matt GaetzMatthew (Matt) GaetzJudge grants another sentencing delay to Gaetz associate, but says it will be his last Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Agencies sound alarm over ransomware targeting agriculture groups Lawmakers question whether Amazon misled Congress 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 RoyEarly redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul House proxy voting extended into mid-November Eighth House GOP lawmaker issued 0 fine for not wearing mask on House floor MORE (Texas), Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertHouse passes bill to end crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity Republicans keep distance from 'Justice for J6' rally Security forces under pressure to prevent repeat of Jan. 6 MORE (Texas), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Warren DavidsonWarren Earl DavidsonCongress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it Watchdog: 7 members of Congress allegedly failed to disclose stock trades On The Money — Yellen sounds alarm on national default 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 LeeRetreating economy creates new hurdle for Democrats in 2022 McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' Senate locks in deal to vote on debt ceiling hike Thursday 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 HigginsRep. Tim Ryan becomes latest COVID-19 breakthrough case in Congress NY Democrat tests positive for COVID-19 in latest House breakthrough case Florida Democrat becomes latest breakthrough COVID-19 case in House MORE of Louisiana.
Earlier Thursday, Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserBowser declares October 2021 'LGBTQ History Month' in DC DC Council member plans to challenge Bowser for mayor Lobbying world 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 BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms 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.”