Senators fury over wearing masks on the floor : Republican Dan Sullivan snaps ‘I don’t need your instruction’ after Democrat urges him to wear a face guard during a debate
- Ohio Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown asked the presiding officer to put mask on
- Dan Sullivan, Republican from Alaska, told Brown he ‘didn’t need’ his instruction
- The face off happened on the Senate floor on Monday evening as coronavirus cases rose in all 50 states
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown began his speech by hitting out at Republican Senator Dan Sullivan from Alaska for not wearing a mask.
Before beginning his remarks on Federal Reserve nominee Judith Shelton, Brown said: ‘I start by asking the presiding officer to wear a mask.’
Sullivan, who was presiding over Senate and who had a mask lying on his desk in front of him, responded: ‘I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking, like most senators’.
He then told Brown in no uncertain terms: ‘I don’t need your instruction.’
‘I know you don’t need my instruction but there clearly isn’t much interest in this body in public health,’ Brown hit back.
Senator Sherrod Brown (pictured) began his remarks by asking presiding officer Senator Dan Sullivan to wear a mask
Sullivan (pictured) whose mask was on his desk, told Brown: ‘I don’t need your instruction’
Video showed the awkward standoff as a masked Brown continued railing against Senate coronavirus procedures, taking aim at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
‘We have a majority leader who calls us back here to vote on an unqualified nominee and, at the same time, to vote for judge after judge after judge, exposing all the people who can’t say anything … and expose all the staff here,’ said Brown. ‘The majority leader just doesn’t seem to care.’
Politico reported that the moment was a rare public disagreement over the way the Senate has been run during the pandemic, saying that while Democrats have complained about Senate proceedings, they have rarely criticized members of the GOP over mask wearing so directly.
Most senators do wear masks throughout the Capitol. After Brown’s speech, Politico reported that Sullivan took his mask off to adjourn the Senate before putting it on again.
A number of senators have caught coronavirus since the pandemic began earlier this year.
However the infections were transmitted elsewhere and the Senate is not thought to have been the site of any person-to-person transmission.
Monday evening’s dispute came as coronavirus cases continued to rise in the US. Official data showed 167,000 new cases on Monday, bringing the total to 11.3million.
At least 247,000 people have died from the virus in the US.