Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) led nearly a dozen GOP lawmakers to take off their masks in violation of House rules.
A Kentucky Republican who is not vaccinated, and says he has no plans to be, led an anti-mask protest on the House floor Tuesday night — protesting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to keep a mask mandate following new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) was the organizer of the protest, according to multiple reports. Massie, along with nearly a dozen other GOP lawmakers, refused to wear masks in the House chamber even though they are still required. The lawmakers face fines for their behavior, as part of House rules.
"We've had enough," Massie tweeted on Tuesday. "We are refusing to wear our masks on the floor during this vote in spite of Pelosi's threat to take $500 from each of us. Her rule is not based on science. All you need to know is the mask rule has only ever applied to members when they can be seen on TV!"
Even if Pelosi had changed the guidance based on the CDC's new guidance — which says fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks indoors — Massie would still not be able to take his mask off under the House rules, as he has not been vaccinated.
The rest of the lawmakers who joined Massie's protest — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA), Lauren Boebert (CO), Brian Mast (FL), Chip Roy (TX), Madison Cawthorn (NC), Beth Van Duyne (TX), Louie Gohmert (TX), Ralph Norman (SC), and Mary Miller (IL) — would not tell NBC News reporter Haley Talbot whether they are fully vaccinated.
But some of those lawmakers, like Greene, have said they had no plans to get the vaccine.
And others have made anti-vaccine comments in the past, including Boebert, who in the fall of 2020 came out against all vaccine requirements, such as public school rules that students be vaccinated before starting.
Of the lawmakers in the protest, only one — Norman — has publicly confirmed being vaccinated, according to a CNN survey of every member of Congress. Meanwhile, every single Democratic lawmaker in both the House and Senate is vaccinated.
It's not the first time some of these lawmakers blatantly disregarded mask rules.
During the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Greene was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who refused to wear masks in a safe room where members of Congress were hidden from the violent Donald Trump-supporting mob that was ransacking the building.
Republicans have been fighting mask mandates since the early days of the pandemic, even though public health experts said face coverings were the best way to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus until vaccines were widely available.
And now that vaccines are available, many of those same Republicans lawmakers are refusing to get the vaccine, which could complicate efforts to end the pandemic.
Polls have shown that Republican voters are more hesitant to get vaccinated than Democratic and independent voters. And vaccine rates in states across the country bear that out, with Blue states having far higher vaccination rates than Red ones. President Joe Biden carried all 10 of the states that currently have the highest vaccination rates, according to the New York Times' vaccine tracker.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.