Senators clash on the floor over wearing masks: 'I don't need your instruction'

Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid MORE (D-Ohio) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Finger-pointing on Capitol riot; GOP balks at Biden relief plan Sanders votes against Biden USDA nominee Vilsack Senate confirms Vilsack as Agriculture secretary MORE (R-Alaska) quarreled on Monday over the necessity of wearing masks while on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMinimum wage setback revives progressive calls to nix Senate filibuster Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE (R-Ky.) gave the floor over to Brown, who opened his remarks by calling for Sullivan to wear a mask as a coronavirus prevention measure.

"I'd start by asking the presiding officer to please wear a mask as he speaks," Brown said before getting cut off.


Sullivan interjected, "I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking like most senators. I don't need your instruction."

"I know you don't need my instruction, but there clearly isn't much interest in this body in public health," replied Brown. "We have a president who hasn't shown up at the coronavirus task force meeting in months."

Brown was referring to reports that President TrumpDonald TrumpDonald Trump Jr. calls Bruce Springsteen's dropped charges 'liberal privilege' Schiff sees challenges for intel committee, community in Trump's shadow McConnell says he'd back Trump as 2024 GOP nominee MORE has not attended a COVID-19 task force meeting in at least five months. Adm. Brett Giroir, a member of the task force, confirmed the reports on Sunday, saying he was “not concerned” that Trump was no longer personally attending the meetings.


The Ohio senator continued his denunciation of the GOP senators by bringing up the staffers present.

"We have a majority leader that calls us back here to vote on an unqualified nominee and at the same time to vote for judge after judge after judge, exposing all the people who can't say anything, I understand, the people in front of you and the presiding officer and expose all the staff here,” he said.

In video of the incident, it appears there was at least one person standing in front of Sullivan’s chair as Brown made his remarks.

"The American people sent a clear message in this election. They voted for stability," Brown said. "They rejected an administration that has failed them in the middle of a public health crisis and an economic crisis. People want a government that works for them and is on their side."

"My colleagues in both parties know this. I know some of you feel like you have to humor the outgoing president, continue to make excuses for him, continue to run from the media when they might ask a question," he added.

To the chagrin of health officials, the wearing of masks has remained a political issue several months into the pandemic, with Republicans balking when their use is required.