WASHINGTON – A group of House GOP lawmakers refused to wear face masks on the floor during votes on Tuesday in defiance of leadership’s rules regarding COVID-19 protocols.
House Democrats imposed a rule in January that said members would be fined $500 on a first offense and $2,500 for a second offense if they did not wear a mask on the House floor.
The members Tuesday who refused to wear a mask first included Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who was approached by a staff member of the House Sergeant of Arms during votes and did not put one on.
Then others started following suit.
Some of these included Rep Mary Miller, R-Il., who sat in the front row next to Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., neither donning a face covering.
Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Lauren Boebert of Colorado stood at the front of the chamber, talking and laughing.
Reps. Beth Van Duyne of Texas and Bob Good of Virginia sat amidst a sea of their masked colleagues, while Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., wheeled himself into the chamber with a face covering and whipped it off after he sat in a chair.
The confrontation follows loosened masked guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people who are fully vaccinated, even indoors, except in crowded indoor settings.
However, not every House Republican is vaccinated.
Massie, who CNN has reported is not vaccinated, tweeted repeatedly about the group of members not wearing masks. Massie tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in July of 2020. The CDC recommends people still get vaccinated regardless of whether they have had coronavirus or not as experts still aren’t sure how long the protection will last.
There are at least 8 of us now on the floor, openly ignoring Pelosi’s oppressive unconstitutional rule.
Masks are oppressive and nothing but a political tool.
End the oppression! pic.twitter.com/EBvCtBpE6u
A few other members, such as Greene, will not say whether they have been vaccinated.
At one point, when several of the maskless members had congregated near the front of the chamber, Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., approached them and confronted Massie about not wearing a mask. Massie could be heard responding: “I can’t hear you” with the mask.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., Vice Chair of the Committee on House Administration, then approached the group and spoke with Massie, Boebert, and Greene for an extended, heated conversation. Raskin then walked away, head shaking.
When asked what they spoke about, Raskin told USA TODAY that he was telling the group of Republicans that “100% of the Democrats have been vaccinated so the only reason we can’t take our masks off on the floor is because of them.”
Raskin said the Republicans had responded they “were having a civil disobedience protest” to which he sarcastically compared them to “21st Century Freedom Riders.”
The Republicans are doing “the House a disservice, the country a disservice. I think they’d be sending a much stronger message if they got vaccinated. If all of us were vaccinated, we can all take our masks off. That would be the message,” he added.
Raskin later told USA TODAY, “I’m not interested in them getting fined. I’m interested in them getting vaccinated.”
Afterwards, Mast told reporters it was the “best $500 I ever spent.” The group wouldn’t elaborate on if they were all vaccinated or not.
POLITICO reported that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is planning a privileged motion on the mask rules Wednesday.
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