House Democrats have proposed a new rule that requires members of Congress wear a mask while on the House floor or pay a $500 fine.
The rule comes following complaints from three Democrats — Reps. Bonnie Coleman, (D-NJ), Brad Schneider, (D-IL), and Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA) — who claim they contracted COVID-19 while sheltering in place with Republican lawmakers during the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol. All three say they were forced to share space with members of the GOP who refused to wear masks.
“I just received a positive COVID-19 test result after being locked down in a secured room at the Capitol where several Republicans not only cruelly refused to wear a mask but recklessly mocked colleagues and staff who offered them one,” Jayapal tweeted late last week, days after the riot.
Schneider called his colleagues’ behavior “reckless” after receiving his own positive test.
“Those that flout public health guidance should be sanctioned and immediately removed from the House floor by the Sergeant at Arms for their reckless endangerment of their colleagues,” he said.
None of the three, however, provided any evidence that their unmasked Republican colleagues were positive for COVID-19, and news organizations quickly noted that photos and video taken inside House chambers during the attack show Jayapal, for one, was also unmasked for at least a half-hour while members of the House were sheltering in place.
At least one Democrat has also recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus and, as The Daily Wire reported earlier this month, flew in to vote for Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the speakership election. A special partition was even constructed before she was allowed to vote over concerns that she could be contagious.
Regardless, the new bill would fine lawmakers $500 for the first time they are caught on the House floor without a face mask and $2500 for each additional infraction. Lawmakers would face a $1000-per-day fine for refusing to wear a mask on U.S. Capitol grounds, according to The Hill.
The rule’s primary sponsor, Rep. Debby Dingell (D-MI) says the measure is designed to punish “selfish, stupid, and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk.”
“Yet still, in the midst of a deadly assault on our United States Capitol, a number of our Republican colleagues laughed off rules designed to keep not just their colleagues safe, but to protect the lives of the teams of workers keeping things going, law enforcement, and staff throughout the Capitol,” Dingell told media, repeating her colleagues’ unsubstantiated claims. “Now, three of our colleagues are suffering from the virus.”
“We’re done playing games,” she added. “Either have some common sense and wear a damn mask or pay a fine. It’s not that complicated.”
The measure is expected to pass.
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