House Coronavirus Crisis Select Subcommittee Chairman Jim Clyburn (D-SC) on Monday threatened not to allow Republicans to attend hearings in person without wearing a mask.
In a letter to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the top Republican on the panel, Clyburn declared:
Going forward, as long as the Attending Physician’s requirement to wear masks is in place, I will not recognize any Member of this Subcommittee to participate in person in any Subcommittee meeting or hearing unless the Member is wearing a mask and strictly adheres to the Attending Physician’s guidance. Members who do not wish to wear a mask are welcome to participate remotely …
The chairman of the coronavirus subcommittee in the Democrat-controlled House stressed that the Capitol physician issued new rules requiring lawmakers to wear masks while attending any House meetings “in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room” for greater than 15 minutes.
Congressman Clyburn also noted that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages wearing masks at indoor gatherings like committee hearings.
By refusing to wear a mask or any other facial coverings during a hearing on Friday, Republicans “undermined the safety of everyone” in the vicinity, including colleagues, staff, witnesses, Capitol Police, and custodial personnel, among others, Clyburn argued, adding:
I am writing to express my profound disappointment that the Republican Members of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis refused to wear masks during Friday’s hearing, which was held one day after the United States reached the highest number of new coronavirus cases on record, and after the disease has already killed more people in the United States than in any other nation on Earth. Masks save lives.
According to Clyburn, GOP members, none of whom wore a face covering during the hearing, requested that the panel hold Friday’s hearing in person.
“My Republican colleagues’ refusal to wear masks is perplexing because you have asked repeatedly to hold in-person hearings, and you assured me that this could be done safely,” Clyburn wrote.
During several hearings and press conferences, Democrat lawmakers have taken their masks off when talking into the microphone.