Several Republicans, including lawmakers who have had Covid-19, continue to resist wearing masks elsewhere on Capitol Hill, and a nasty row erupted over the practice on Monday on the normally decorated Senate floor.
Late last week, House Democratic leaders abruptly turned an elaborate Statuary Hall dinner for their new members into a take-out after facing backlash online and internally for hosting such an event. while most Americans are warned to cut back or cancel vacations. plans. And during the orientation for new lawmakers – which had already been largely brought under control because of the virus – Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican supporting QAnon, proudly announced in the middle of a pandemic security discussion that she had denounced the facial covers.
This is a dynamic that does not bode well for participation at the end of the 116th Congress. The absence of Mr Grassley and Mr Scott on Tuesday temporarily blocked confirmation from Judy Shelton, Mr Trump’s Fed candidate, after Republicans failed to secure the support they needed to move to the final vote .
“There’s that kind of macho, ‘Well I’m not afraid of Covid,’ said Senator Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii, who has one of the longest trips to Congress and asked all its staff to work remotely. “We have to run the government – it is our obligation. Our obligation is not to show that we are not afraid personally, because we have to pass a law to solve this crisis, and we are not good for anyone if we are sick or in quarantine.
Partisan divisions were further underscored by a tense exchange Monday night between Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, and Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska, as Mr. Sullivan presided over the chamber.
When Mr. Brown stood up to speak, he asked Mr. Sullivan, whose mask was removed and lying on the desk in front of him, to “wear a mask”, in part to protect staff members required to attend. Sit on the platform just below, closer than the recommended six feet for a good distance.
“I do not wear a mask when I speak, like most senators,” retorted Mr. Sullivan, who wears a mask around the Capitol but takes it off to speak on the floor. “I don’t need your instructions.”