Senators Clash Over Mask Wearing In Congress

November 17, 2020 Updated: November 17, 2020

Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) got into a heated exchange on the Senate floor over mask-wearing, with the Democrat urging the Republican to wear a mask while speaking, and the latter retorting that he doesn’t “need your instruction.”

In a clip Brown shared on Twitter that has been viewed over 2 million times, Sullivan, who was presiding over the Senate, acknowledged the Ohio Democrat’s turn to speak, at which point Brown said: “I’d start by asking the presiding officer to please wear a mask as he speaks so people below him are—I can’t tell you what to do, but I know that the behavior…”

Sullivan interrupted Brown by saying, “I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking, like most senators,” adding, “I don’t need your instruction.”

In a later post on Twitter, Brown wrote: “Once again, I asked my Republican colleagues to stop endangering all the Senate workers—and simply wear a mask when presiding over the Senate. Once again, they refused.”

Some of Sullivan’s GOP colleagues accused Brown of blowing the issue out of proportion, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) denouncing the Ohio senator’s behavior as “idiotic,” noting Sullivan was over 50 feet away and thus observing social distancing guidelines.

“Last I checked 50 feet is more than 6 feet,” Cruz wrote in a tweet.

“He wears a mask to speak—when nobody is remotely near him—as an ostentatious sign of fake virtue,” he added.

The clash highlights the partisan divide over CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus precautions, with Republicans often accusing Democrats of supporting excessively harsh measures.

Several Democratic-led states have initiated new lockdowns in response to surging cases of the CCP virus, with economists warning of economic fallout from a new round of restrictions.

Authorities in Michigan and Washington state have announced partial lockdowns as cases of virus top 11 million in the United States. Deaths from the virus across the country in the past week are at 8,263, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Republican lawmakers in Michigan are working on launching impeachment hearings against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who has frustrated some with what they have characterized as harsh orders she’s imposed during the pandemic.

Rep. Matt Maddock, a Republican, in a post on Facebook accused the Democrat of impeachable conduct including ignoring court orders and violating Michiganders constitutional rights.

Whitmer’s office later responded in a statement attributed to press secretary Tiffany Brown, as cited by WWMT West Michigan: “Governor Whitmer doesn’t have any time for partisan politics or people who don’t wear masks, don’t believe in science, and don’t have a plan to fight this virus.”

“Right now, she is focused on saving lives,” Brown stated. “This is about Michigan vs. COVID-19. Governor Whitmer doesn’t care if you’re a Trump Republican or a Biden Democrat. We are all in this together.”

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