About 40 House Republicans walked maskless across the Capitol to the Senate floor to protest the Keystone Kops decision of the Capitol physician to mandate masks on the House side of the Capitol but not the Senate side.
The members complained that the policy is inconsistent, infringes on personal liberty, and is based on politics, not science.
House Republicans are protesting the mask mandate by walking to the Senate, where masks are not mandated by Capitol physician pic.twitter.com/sFD6AVnbr3
— Scott Wong (@scottwongDC) July 29, 2021
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told The Hill, “At least in the Senate, they’re recognizing individual responsibility and following science, not just using this as a political tool. So, what are we doing: following the science or Pelosi’s political moves? It’s Pelosi’s political moves.”
The GOP lawmakers, who have Senate floor privileges as members of the House, tried to time their protest with a speech by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on individual freedom.
It came on the same day that the U.S. Capitol Police said that congressional aides and visitors could face arrest if they refuse to wear a mask on the House side of the Capitol complex, including the Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon office buildings. But as of Thursday afternoon, there were zero arrests even as dozens of House lawmakers and staffers walked around the Capitol’s hallways without donning a mask.
Republicans are trying to goad the Democrats into arresting one or more of them, which, given Nancy Pelosi’s notoriously short temper and the ability of some members to get under her skin, is a distinct possibility.
Former Trump White House physician and current Texas Representative Ronny Jackson said the protest was to show “what it was like on the floor of the Senate versus the floor of the House. Obviously, it’s vastly different.” The senators “have the freedom to speak without their mask on and be in there and it’s not near as restrictive as it is on the House side. It makes no sense,” he added.
Rep.Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) told Fox News that the protest was a stance in favor of personal liberty. “Along with the majority of Americans, we rejected the totalitarian, hypocritical, and arbitrary ruling from Speaker Pelosi demanding masks be worn in the House,” Cawthorn said. “My staff should never fear arrest because they practice individual responsibility.”
That’s not enough, apparently. Despite minuscule numbers of vaccinated people contracting COVID — about 0.098 percent of 156 million vaccinated — masking is required because Pelosi believes it contrasts the Democrats’ belief in “following the science” versus the “troglodyte” Republicans talking about freedom, individual liberty, and other unimportant stuff.
Pelosi has badly misread the mood of the country and the politics of the mask mandates. As they say in Washington, the “optics are bad” for the Democrats when they push on-again/off-again/on-again mask mandates just because the CDC has a fit over one Fourth of July party in Massachusetts that appears to have been a super spreader event, but says nothing about what’s happening on the border.
COVID-19 is here to stay, regardless of how many of us are vaccinated. Eventually, some kind of silver bullet will be found that’s safe and effective and COVID will be relegated to the status of a childhood illness like mumps and measles. But if the Democrats are going to insist on using COVID as a political club to wield against Republicans, they are going to lose consistently and lose by large margins.