A group of New Jersey Republican state Assembly members walked past state police troopers on Thursday, entering the Assembly floor despite a statehouse COVID-19 policy that requires people to show a negative COVID-19 test or proof of vaccination, NJ.com reported.
A handful of lawmakers complained about being stopped ahead of the Assembly floor for COVID-19 vaccination proof or a negative test. But eventually, they learned that the troopers would not physically stand in their way, and moved past law enforcement into the chamber.
Assemblyman Brian Bergen (R) reportedly said to another lawmaker, “We can walk right past them,” according to NJ.com.
Video posted to social media by a reporter for NJ.com showed lawmakers talking to the troopers at the doors of the chamber.
A few Republicans just walked in, saying the troopers won’t physically restrain them. “We can walk right past them,” @votebergen told Peterson.— Brent Johnson (@johnsb01) December 2, 2021
This was the scene before that: pic.twitter.com/B1mbCFYLSu
The account NJ Assembly GOP also tweeted about the incident.
Republicans take their seats in the Assembly Chambers as @njassemblydems continue to devise ways to have them removed for refusing to follow a new Statehouse Covid-19 policy that requires them to show a vaccination card or negative test. #VaccineMandates #NJStateHouse pic.twitter.com/OPiHJjwXvt— NJ Assembly GOP (@NJAssemblyGOP) December 2, 2021
Assemblyman Kevin Rooney (R) tweeted that their entire Republican caucus had been seated in the statehouse as they waited for Democrats to take their seats.
The latest incident in the New Jersey statehouse underscores the partisan divide on the issue of vaccine mandates and proof of testing. Republicans have often railed against measures to require proof of vaccination, as many state and local Democratic leaders have instituted vaccine mandates in their areas.
Many medical and public health professionals argue that a high level of vaccination will be the way to end the pandemic, which has continued for almost two years in the United States.
President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE's vaccine mandate for private businesses with over 100 employees has been halted in court after several lawsuits from Republican officials were filed recently.
In addition, cases of the newly detected omicron variant have been found in California, Minnesota and Colorado. Health officials have urged Americans to get vaccinated or receive their booster shots if eligible in preparation for the wide spread of the strain. However, it thus far remains unknown exactly how much protection current vaccines will provide against the new variant.
The Hill has reached out to Bergen for comment.