House Republicans throw 'tantrum' over masks as COVID cases rebound

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Just last year, many Republican leaders accused Democrats of wanting to 'abandon ship' during the pandemic because they chose work remotely.

Republican lawmakers repeatedly tried to adjourn the House of Representatives on Wednesday, preferring to head home rather than comply with new coronavirus safety measures.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that "masks will be once again be required in the Hall of the House," for all members and staff, except while members are recognized to speak.

The change came due to an order from Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' attending physician, deeming masks necessary to keep members and their employees safe.

It followed new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on Tuesday warning that the delta variant can be caught and transmitted by some fully vaccinated people and urging some face mask use in indoor public places, even among those who have been inoculated.

At 11:26 a.m., Texas Rep. Chip Roy made the first motion to adjourn. He had just completed an angry floor speech in which he argued that the "institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down," because the Democratic majority had reinstituted a mask requirement in response to the spread of the delta variant.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, a staunch opponent of COVID-19 safety measures, who reportedly threw a face mask at a House staffer who had urged her to comply with the rule earlier in the day, tweeted, "If the threat of the Biden Border variant is truly so dangerous in the U.S. House of Representatives, we should adjourn."

After 38 minutes of voting, Roy's motion failed — but 197 House Republicans backed his attempt to leave work for the rest of the day and head home.

At 1:31 p.m., Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) proceeded to the floor and made another motion to adjourn. After a 34-minute vote, his motion too was defeated, 174-216.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) described the motions in a tweet as a "mass temper tantrum over Covid guidance."

In total, more than an hour was wasted on the two motions, on a busy day when the House was considering funding bills for several branches of the federal government.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) slammed the stunts, tweeting that the Republicans "want to go home instead of working for the people," and noting that "anyone else trying to leave work in the middle of [the] work day would be fired."

Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) mocked his GOP colleagues for throwing a "temper tantrum" just because representatives "were asked to do what the rest of the country has been asked to do: wear a mask."

The attempts to adjourn, rather than comply with COVID-19 safety requirements, are at odd with Republican leaders who accused the Democratic majority over a year ago of dereliction of duty for opting to let some members work from home, rather than coming to the Capitol during a pandemic.

"Across our nation, Americans of all stripes are making sacrifices and doing their part to defeat this virus — and they expect Washington to do the same," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois — the ranking member of the Committee on House Administration — and Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the ranking member of the Committee on Rules, wrote in a May 2020 joint statement.

"Unfortunately, far from being 'captains of this ship' as Speaker Pelosi recently proclaimed, the Democrats' proposal calls for the House of Representatives to abandon ship — potentially for the remainder of the session," they claimed at the time.

In just the past 10 days, two House Republicans have announced that they have tested positive for COVID-19.

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan said last Monday that he contracted the virus despite being fully vaccinated. Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins revealed Sunday that he and his family also have COVID-19, even though they had it previously.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.