U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, on Tuesday called for fining any member of Congress who refuses to wear a mask on the Capitol grounds $1,000 for each day he or she goes mask-less.
Dingell’s legislation comes after three members of the U.S. House have tested positive for COVID-19 following last week’s riot by protesters at the Capitol that forced lawmakers to be evacuated into one location.
Many of the legislators who were on the House floor at the time of the deadly disturbance on Jan. 6 were held in a room together, including Dingell. She told the Free Press at the time that several legislators were not wearing masks despite the continued spread of COVID-19.
“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask,” Dingell said. “It is selfish, stupid and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk.”
The legislation would amend House rules to fine any member of Congress who doesn’t wear a mask $1,000 a day until such time as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is safe not to wear a mask. It would only apply on the Capitol grounds and it wasn’t immediately clear whether it would apply only in public areas or in members’ offices when they were alone or socially distanced from staff.
“Days ago, a colleague of ours died from this virus and left behind a beautiful young family to mourn his loss,” Dingell said. “Still, in the midst of a deadly assault on our United States Capitol, a number of our Republican colleagues laughed off rules designed to keep not just their colleagues safe but to protect the lives of the teams of workers keeping things going, law enforcement and staff throughout the Capitol.”
Dingell introduced the legislation along with Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md. Democratic U.S. Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Brad Schneider of Illinois tested positive this week. While it’s not known for certain that the virus was spread while the legislators were being contained in one space for their safety during the riot, Congress’ attending physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, on Sunday said that during that period ” individuals may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection.”
In late December, a newly elected congressman, Luke Letlow, a Louisiana Republican, died from complications from COVID-19 before taking office. He was 41.
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