House Democrats Can Lead Maskless GOP Members To ‘Isolation Boxes’ But They Can’t Make Them Think
Rep. Katherine Clark wants to put Rep. Majorie Taylor Greene in a box. The fourth-ranking House Democrat is fed up with Greene and other GOP COVID denialists who refuse to wear a mask on the House floor, even as Omicron rages through Washington DC.
Greene and Rep. Andrew Clyde have specifically been fined tens of thousands of dollars for violating the mask mandate, and they wear the fines as badges of honor but not like a mask, which still wouldn’t help because it’s only metaphorical. The CDC recommends literal masks.
So, Clark suggests confining the mask scofflaws to plexiglass enclosures in the gallery overlooking the House chamber. The “isolation boxes” would protect other House members from the coronavirus that these dummies seem intent on spreading everywhere.
The House Ethics Committee has fined four Republicans for not complying with the House mask mandate:\n\nThe Georgia conspiracy theorist was fined twice. The Colorado conspiracy theorist was fined once. Andrew Clyde was fined 7 times. Mariannette Miller-Meeks was fined once.— Kyle Griffin (@Kyle Griffin) 1641992400
Clark wrote in a letter to House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker Tuesday:
This callous disregard for House rules endangers the health of members of Congress and the professional staff whose physical presence is required to ensure continuity of government. [...]
That is why, in addition to imposing fines, I am requesting that your office begin requiring members who fail to comply with this rule to attend the House floor from the isolation boxes in the House gallery. [...]
This commonsense step will not only protect our dedicated House staff from Members who refuse to follow House rules, but it will also allow those Members to continue to fulfill their constitutional duty to vote on matters before the House.
The House mask mandate was first established in July 2020 because too many Republican members refused to listen to science and wear a damn mask in public. After everyone briefly abandoned masks during the wild summer of 2021, it was reinstated in late July last year because of the highly contagious Delta variant. This wasn’t House Speaker Nancy Pelosi being a tyrant. She was enforcing House Physician Dr. Brian Monahan’s guidance.
The Senate doesn’t have a mask mandate. We’re not sure why. Maybe the GOP filibustered it.
During his testimony Tuesday to the House Appropriations Committee, House Sergeant-at-Arms Walker explained how difficult it is to enforce this basic public health measure when certain Republicans act like spoiled brats with no respect for the rules.
WALKER: I see people — members, staff — without masks. And I'll walk up to them and I'll ask them to put the mask on. And some just walk away from me. Some put it on.
House Democrats started fining fools who violated the mask mandate shortly after the January 6 Capitol attack when certain annoying members refused to wear a mask even when cramped into a crowded space. The asshole tax starts at $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for subsequent offenses. Most Republicans have complied because they’re at least cheap if not considerate. But Clark says it’s clear that the fines aren’t deterring such luminaries as Greene, Clyde, and Lauren Boebert. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a licensed physician, has also been fined for not wearing a mask on the House floor.
These Republicans have fundraised off the fines and otherwise used them to raise their profiles, so they might consider the fines a reasonable investment. You have to spend money to make money in the grifting game.
Dr. Monahan says that the current number of COVID-19 cases at the Capitol is “unprecedented.” He’s encouraging members and their staffs to work from home for now. That’s one way for the MAGA mobsters to avoid the mandate and keep people safe, but there’s no fame in such discretion. If they insist on showing their asses, as well as their unmasked faces, at the Capitol, they should go in the box.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."