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Feinstein proposes withholding COVID-19 relief from states without mask mandates

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinIncoming Congress looks more like America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - COVID-19 fears surround Thanksgiving holiday Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (D-Calif.) called on the Senate on Thursday to support an amendment to the next coronavirus relief bill that would bar states that do not implement mask mandates from receiving stimulus funding.

In a statement from the senator's office, Feinstein announced her intention to introduce the amendment and stated that it was time for Congress to step in and force states to implement such mandates to stop the virus from spreading.

“Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period. [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] said the Senate will take up the next coronavirus economic relief bill later this month. At that time, I intend to offer an amendment to prohibit sending funds to states that haven’t adopted a statewide mask requirement," said Feinstein, a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration.

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“My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in. This is a matter of life or death, and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role," she continued.

Feinstein's statement comes as some governors including Georgia's Brian KempBrian KempRepublicans fear rift in Georgia GOP amid attacks from Trump Geraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Georgia secretary of state opens investigation into voter registration groups MORE (R) and South Dakota's Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemCOVID-19, masks and the freedom to drive drunk Members of law enforcement sue to halt marijuana legalization in South Dakota Thanksgiving gatherings could inflame COVID-19 crisis MORE (R) have resisted implementing mask mandates, while Kemp has also taken steps to punish or block local officials who implement such mandates.

Those governors' efforts fly in the face of federal health officials' advice, including that from Surgeon General Jerome Adams who said Sunday that the U.S. could reverse its upward trend of new coronavirus cases were more Americans to "do their part," including wearing masks in public.

“Just as we've seen cases skyrocket, we can turn this thing around in two to three weeks if we can get a critical mass of people wearing face coverings, practicing at least six feet of social distancing, doing the things that we know are effective,” he said on CBS's "Face the Nation." “And it’s important for the American people to understand when we’re talking about the fall, we have the ability to turn this around very quickly if people will do the right thing.”