Feinstein proposes withholding COVID-19 relief from states without mask mandates
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (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.
“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 Kemp (R) and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem (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.”