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Ted Cruz slams fellow senator as a 'complete ass' over wearing mask

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzBoehner: 'There's a lot of leaders in the Republican Party' Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Boehner: Trump 'stepped all over their loyalty' by lying to followers MORE (R-Texas) called a Democratic senator a “complete ass” for asking that fellow lawmakers wear masks while in the chamber. 

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Former Ohio health director won't run for Senate MORE (D-Ohio) had asked Sen. Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanCongress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured GOP lawmakers ask Biden administration for guidance on reopening cruise industry Alaska's other GOP senator says he'll back Murkowski for reelection MORE (R-Alaska) to wear a mask while presiding over the Senate on Monday.

While Cruz argued that Sullivan was about 50 feet from Brown, and therefore didn’t need to wear a mask, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health authorities recommend that people use face coverings when in public indoor spaces and workspaces regardless of distance.

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“This is idiotic,” Cruz tweeted Monday night, adding that Brown “is being a complete ass. He wears a mask to speak — when nobody is remotely near him — as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.” 

The CDC advises that people “should wear masks in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household.” 

CDC guidance also states that masks are not a substitute for social distancing, and masks should be worn in addition to staying at least six feet apart to most effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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It’s especially important to wear masks indoors where COVID-19 spreads more easily because of less ventilation, the CDC states.

Throughout the pandemic, Brown has repeatedly asked his colleagues to wear masks in the chamber. While House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiAgainst mounting odds, Biden seeks GOP support for infrastructure plan Charles Booker launches exploratory committee to consider challenge to Rand Paul Top academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act MORE (D-Calif.) requires everyone on the House floor to wear masks, there is no similar requirement in the Senate. 

"I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking like most senators. I don't need your instruction,” Sullivan said to Brown on the Senate floor.

While Cruz argued that Sullivan was at least 50 feet away from Brown, video of the exchange shows Sullivan was much closer to at least one Senate staffer. 

The CDC updated its guidance recently to state that masks also provide some protection to the wearer, in addition to helping stop others who may not know they are sick from spreading the virus.

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The CDC states that COVID-19 is mostly spread via close contact through respiratory droplets exhaled by an infected person, through sneezing, coughing or talking. 

But the agency recently acknowledged it is also possible for the virus to spread beyond six feet indoors through smaller particles that linger in the air for minutes or hours and increase in number with the volume of speech.

Several senators, members of Congress and people in the White House, including President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump: McConnell 'helpless' to stop Biden from packing court Romney on NRSC awarding Trump: Not 'my preference' McConnell sidesteps Trump calling him 'dumb son of a b----' MORE, have contracted COVID-19, though it is often unclear where they got the disease because of a lack of contact tracing within the Capitol and White House.

Several cases last month were tied to White House celebrations announcing the nomination of Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettMcConnell, GOP slam Biden's executive order on SCOTUS Progressives give Biden's court reform panel mixed reviews Top GOP super PAC endorses Murkowski amid primary threat MORE to the Supreme Court, with Sens. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Biden nominates former NSA deputy director to serve as cyber czar | Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after all | Biden pressed on semiconductor production amid shortage Apple to send witness to Senate hearing after pushback from Klobuchar, Lee Biden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies MORE (R-Utah) and Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings GOP senator recovering from surgery for prostate cancer Congress must address the toxic exposure our veterans have endured MORE (R-N.C.) falling ill. 

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyNumber of migrants detained at southern border reaches 15-year high: reports Grassley, Cornyn push for Senate border hearing The Hill's Morning Report - GOP pounces on Biden's infrastructure plan MORE (R-Iowa) announced Tuesday he will quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.