On Capitol Hill, the rebirth of the mask mandate ignites partisan recriminations

WASHINGTON – Late on Tuesday night, after Capitol Hill’s attending physician declared the “People’s House” back under cover, the Republi...


WASHINGTON – Late on Tuesday night, after Capitol Hill’s attending physician declared the “People’s House” back under cover, the Republicans’ response was immediate and emphatic.

“Don’t make a mistake,” Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, wrote: “The threat to bring back masks is not a science-based decision, but a decision evoked by representatives of the Liberal government who want to continue living in a state of perpetual pandemic. “

“More freedom. Less Fauci,” joked Rep. Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, referring to Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one of the crunches. – favorite mittens of the right.

It was not clear what “liberal government officials” would get from forcing Americans to wear masks. Not many people like to put on their face coverings. But the House’s tenure seemed to be playing out like a parable for the rest of the nation.

Lawmakers in low-infection, high-vaccination districts – many of whom are Democrats – wear their masks in a consistent manner, while members of Congress from areas where the virus is spreading rapidly – including from many Republicans – resisted or wear their masks in protest.

Somehow, Republicans have co-opted a Democratic phrase and insist that they are the ones following the science, given Washington’s high vaccination rate and relatively low number of cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says its latest mask recommendations reflect the resurgence of the coronavirus, driven by a new, highly contagious variant tearing apart unvaccinated populations.

Asked about Mr McCarthy’s comments on Wednesday, Ms Pelosi was heard retort: ​​”He’s such a jerk.” (She then softened her tone, saying the senior Republican’s stance was “unwise.”)

“If she’s so brilliant,” Mr. McCarthy retorted, “can she tell me where the science in the building changes between the House and the Senate? The Senate did not mandate the masks, adopting voluntary recommendations instead.

Later, in a speech in the House, Mr McCarthy accused the speaker of breaking his own rules and suggested that the House term was “just the beginning” of a journey to power. Democrats to reinstate restrictions on social gatherings and in-person school.

For the CDC, director Dr Rochelle P. Walensky said on Wednesday that the tipping point was new evidence that Americans vaccinated with “breakthrough” cases of Covid-19 could infect others.

“Vaccinated people who are breakthroughs have the same amount of virus as unvaccinated people,” she said on Doctor Radio Reports, a show on SiriusXM. “And this leads us a lot to believe that it is probably true that these revolutionary vaccinated infections, as rare as they are, have the potential to infect others.”

Whether the CDC will succeed in putting Americans back in mask will be played out in microcosm on Capitol Hill, that rare place where staunch conservatives mingle with staunch liberals on a daily basis.

On CDC advice, Capitol Hill attending physician Dr Brian P. Monahan kicked off the effort Tuesday night, reinstating a mask warrant for the House he lifted just a few weeks ago. The House, he said, represented “a collection of individuals traveling each week from various risk areas.” The Senate is a much smaller body where all but a few members are vaccinated.

Dr Monahan has seriously warned of the spread of the Delta variant, which has seen coronavirus cases soar 145% in the past 14 days, to a seven-day Tuesday average of 63,248. There is a months, the country recorded less than 12,000 cases.

Hospitalizations have increased by 70%. Deaths, a lagging indicator, increased 6% in two weeks.

“The Delta variant virus has been detected in Washington, DC, and in the Capitol buildings,” Dr. Monahan said. “This poses a serious health risk to unvaccinated people and is not without risk to vaccinated people or their unvaccinated household contacts.”

The virus takes stock of the doctor. The Senate Homeland Security Committee canceled a business meeting where it was scheduled to advance two key candidates after staff members who came into contact with the panel tested positive for the virus despite being vaccinated, a said a committee assistant. Ms Pelosi’s vaccinated senior assistant was infected, as were other House and Senate assistants.

Yet the Republican response on Capitol Hill has been unequivocal – and angry. Unmasked Representative Chip Roy, Republican from Texas, proposed to adjourn the House and forced all its members to come together to reject it. Moments earlier, he had painstakingly linked the mask’s mandate to one of Republicans’ political issues of choice: the crushing of migrants crossing the southwest border, who he said were “seriously infected.”

“We have a crisis at our border and we are playing football with mask warrants in the people’s house,” Roy said loudly.

While dutifully wearing a mask, Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the board of directors, said he feared Dr Monahan “would sometimes be pressured by the speaker to ‘it issues directives less motivated by science than by politics’. Republicans later brought the charge against Dr Monahan directly in an in-person meeting, accusing him of acting on the speaker’s botched database and political interests – a claim he vigorously denied.

In total, a dozen or more Republicans appeared to flout the rule on the House floor. When a member of staff handed a mask to one of them, Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, she fired him.

House rules state that any lawmaker who does not wear a mask in specified spaces of the Capitol complex can be fined $ 500 or more.

Democrats, many of whom were already angry with Tories stoking reluctance to vaccinate, were out of the fuse. Just off the floor of the House, masked Representative Jared Huffman, Democrat from California, publicly accosted an unvaccinated Republican colleague, Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, calling him “selfish” for refusing to wear a mask.

Mr Donalds hit back, “Mind your own business, man” and walked away in anger. He then voted without a mask and did not say if he planned to be vaccinated because he contracted Covid-19 in the fall and believed he still had antibodies.

“Look, the rule is stupid,” he said. “Let’s be very blunt about this. Yesterday we were on the ground for a total of two hours and some change. If Covid-19 has invaded the Capitol, we all have it. “

As the House rushed to lock down, senators did not appear in a rush.

Senate Republicans have generally taken a more conciliatory approach than their House counterparts, with their leaders begging the Conservatives to let go of their hesitation and get the shot. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, planned to use tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to run radio commercials in his home state advertising the vaccine as a “modern medical miracle.”

“If you haven’t been vaccinated, do the right thing,” he says in the ad, in which he recounts his own battle with polio.

Yet when Mr. McConnell visited the Senate on Wednesday, he did not put on a face covering. He said on Tuesday that the high vaccination rate among lawmakers and Capitol attendants had given him confidence to let go.

But others were happy to accumulate outrage. Senator Ted Cruz from Texas furious, “Science has not changed. Only politics have done it.

Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson wondered aloud the conservative media Breitbart: “Do the masks even work? Are they doing more harm than good – especially to children who have a low risk of serious illness or death from Covid?

He continued, “It is time to regain freedom and end this state of fear.”

Catie edmondson contributed reports.



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Newsrust - US Top News: On Capitol Hill, the rebirth of the mask mandate ignites partisan recriminations
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