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

Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden budget pick sparks battle with GOP Senate Warren, Brown voice support for controversial Biden budget office pick Biden's economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans MORE (D-Ohio) and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration proceeds with rollback of bird protections despite objections | Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians | EU 2019 greenhouse gas emissions down 24 percent Trump banking proposal on fossil fuels sparks backlash from libertarians Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing MORE (R-Alaska) quarreled on Monday over the necessity of wearing masks while on the Senate floor.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves two energy regulators, completing panel On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department 'improperly presented' jobless data Senate GOP open to confirming Yellen to be Biden's Treasury secretary 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 John TrumpGeraldo Rivera on Trump sowing election result doubts: 'Enough is enough now' Murkowski: Trump should concede White House race Scott Atlas resigns as coronavirus adviser to Trump 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.