Brown, who wore a mask as he spoke, said, “I’d start by asking the presiding officer to please wear a mask as he speaks.” Sullivan, who was not wearing a mask, responded tersely, “I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking, like most senators, I don’t need your instruction.”
The Texas Republican went on to say that Sullivan was “over 50 feet away” from his fellow senator, adding “last I checked 50 feet is more than 6 feet.” However, Cruz’s tweet was misleading, as Brown seemed to be referring to the staffers who were just a few feet away from Sullivan while he was maskless.
The series of events marks the latest flare-up on Capitol Hill over mask wearing and comes amid a deadly nationwide surge in coronavirus cases. A number of members of Congress have either tested positive or gone into quarantine following Covid-19 exposure in recent days.
Grassley, who as president pro tempore is the most senior Republican in the chamber, is 87 years old, putting him at a vulnerable age for contracting the virus. The Iowa Republican spoke on the Senate floor on Monday and was seen at the Capitol speaking to reporters Monday afternoon.
In his comments directed at Sullivan on the Senate floor, the Ohio Democrat pointed out that there are “people below him,” as he speaks.
He went on to say, “there clearly isn’t much interest in this body in public health.”
Since the pandemic has begun, there have been many occasions during which senators do not appear to be adequately socially distant on the Senate floor, especially during votes.
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