Senate

Democratic senator demands Rand Paul wear a mask on Senate floor

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) on Thursday demanded in front of the entire Senate that his colleague Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wear a mask in the chamber, where senators were massed for a long series of votes on the budget resolution.

When Paul stood up to ask that each vote be limited to 10 minutes, Brown objected and demanded that the libertarian-leaning Republican wear a mask in the chamber.

“I would like to ask Sen. Paul in front of everybody to start wearing a mask on the Senate floor like the entire staff does all the time,” Brown said with a clear tone of exasperation in his voice. 

Brown noted that Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), in the chair at the time, was wearing a mask, as was just about every other senator on the floor during a vote on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) on withholding funding from schools that do not reopen for in-person learning after teachers are vaccinated.

“I appreciate now the presiding officer wearing a mask. But I wish Sen. Paul would show respect to his colleagues to wear a mask when he’s on the Senate floor walking around and speaking,” Brown said. 

Brown, however, ultimately didn’t block Paul’s request to limit the time of the votes, even though the Kentucky senator didn’t make any move to then put on a mask.

Instead, Paul, remaining maskless, sat down next to Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) for the remainder of the vote to chat. 

Paul, who tested positive for COVID-19 in March, doesn’t wear a mask. He argues that people who have recovered from the disease are immune. 

Paul told Fox News in an interview in November that people who recover from the virus should “throw away their masks, go to restaurants, live again” because they “are now immune.” 

Brown got into a tiff with another Republican colleague, Sen. Dan Sullivan (Alaska), in November over not wearing a mask on the Senate floor.

Brown asked him to “please wear a mask” while he was presiding over the chamber, prompting an angry response.

“I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking, like most senators,” Sullivan shot back. “I don’t need your instruction.” 

Brown scolded his colleagues for not being more considerate.

“There clearly isn’t much interest in this body in public health,” he said, arguing that not wearing a mask on the floor exposes floor staff. 

Senators started receiving COVID-19 vaccines in December. There’s little evidence, however, that receiving the vaccine prevents someone from transmitting the virus to people who aren’t vaccinated. 

Tags Dan Sullivan Jacky Rosen Rand Paul Roy Blunt Sherrod Brown

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