GOP mask defiance is all about the 2022 ballot box

WASHINGTON — Republicans are making a mockery of masks.

Final week, dozens of them marched across the second floor of the Capitol to the mask-ambivalent Senate in an indication in opposition to the mandate Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has imposed on the Home.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., instructed colleagues that the mandate ate his homework.

“Because of the draconian measures instituted on masks and steel detectors,” he instructed his colleagues after failing to look for an unrelated roll name, “I missed a vote out of frustration.”

And Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ailing., took to the ground Thursday to rail in opposition to the inconvenience of Pelosi’s mandate and new federal steering on sporting masks indoors.

“The Democrats are utilizing concern and mandates to proceed the disaster mode. However the actual disaster has but to hit: melancholy, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, provide chain points, halted manufacturing, financial collapse, and worse, the harm to our kids’s hearts and minds from being out of their college and actions,” she mentioned, noting that Pelosi had her hair executed at a salon throughout final yr’s nationwide shutdown. “The foundations solely apply to we, the individuals. They by no means apply to those that are in energy.”

On the identical time, the U.S. has crossed the edge of 35 million Covid circumstances, and greater than 616,000 individuals have died from the illness, according to NBC’s figures, up from 400,000 in mid-January. In different phrases, whilst tens of millions of People have gotten vaccinated, the pandemic continues to be spreading and killing.


It is exhausting to sq. Miller’s allegation with the precise Home masks mandate, which solely impacts the highly effective — together with Miller and Pelosi — or the truth that former President Donald Trump sometimes pushed Americans to wear masks. The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention has not tried to impose a federal masks mandate however did change its recommendation to encourage vaccinated individuals to put on masks indoors in sure conditions, steering that knowledgeable Pelosi’s choice to make elected officers cowl their faces within the Home.

Nonetheless, Miller’s cost is a helpful distillation of the best way during which Republican officers are speaking with voters through the current resurgence, and it foreshadows a marketing campaign season during which the GOP runs on freedom from the illness whereas modeling habits that promotes its unfold.

Throughout a speech in Utah final week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential candidate, ridiculed the administration’s new steering.

“Did you not get the CDC’s memo?” said DeSantis, whose state has seen a large surge in Covid circumstances. “I don’t see you guys complying.”

Two days later, Florida reported its highest number of new infections — greater than 21,000 — for the reason that pandemic started.

Republicans are betting that voters will blame Democrats for any ongoing suggestion that they defend themselves and others from the illness by sporting a masks or getting a vaccine. The Biden administration is clearly fearful a few potential backlash from voters weary of sporting masks.

“It isn’t a welcomed piece of reports that masking goes to be part of individuals’s lives who’ve already been vaccinated,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky instructed reporters. “This new information weighs closely on me, this new steering weighed closely on me and I simply wished to convey that this was not a call that was taken evenly.”

However Jaime Harrison, chairman of the Democratic Nationwide Committee, instructed NBC Information he is not involved concerning the politics. He thinks Democrats will likely be rewarded for his or her dealing with of Covid.

“Placing the lives and livelihoods of the American individuals first shouldn’t be solely good politics, however most significantly, it is the precise factor to do,” he mentioned by textual content message. “Whereas Republicans unfold anti-mask misinformation, carry out infantile anti-mask antics and make it harder to beat this pandemic, President Biden and Democrats proceed to concentrate on getting our nation again on monitor.”

Republicans will not be uniformly anti-mask. However in an echo of their break up on vaccines, the loudest voices are these of GOP lawmakers who assume their freedom is abrogated once they’re instructed that masks save lives. Even Senate Minority Chief Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who’s spending marketing campaign funds to encourage constituents to get vaccinated, has been extra circumspect about indoor masks use than the pictures.

“This specific setting right here on Capitol Hill is extraordinarily well-vaccinated, and we simply received the report from CDC and I believe we’ll all be enthusiastic about the best way ahead,” he instructed reporters final week. “Nevertheless it’s fairly clear that in the event you’re vaccinated … your probabilities of having the illness are fairly small and virtually all people within the Capitol advanced is vaccinated. So, this setting proper right here is — is fairly secure. However we’ll must see what the response is to their announcement.”

The Home Republicans are extra reflective of a base that is still against mask-wearing, even in areas the place Covid is on the rise. A current Hill-Harris poll confirmed that 93 % of Democrats assist masks mandates in high-infection locations whereas Republicans are break up 59 % to 41 %.

It is the 41-percent tail that seems to be wagging the 59-percent canine proper now. That definitely makes some political sense within the Home, the place the overwhelming majority of Republicans — just like the overwhelming majority of Democrats — hail from politically secure districts. They’ve extra to concern, and to realize, from constituents who’re fired up in opposition to masks use.

All of that helps clarify why Republicans are attempting to show federal steering like that issued underneath Trump — and the Home masks mandate — into one other problem that resonates with their base: the concept that the Democratic-run authorities is attempting to regulate their lives.

“People are completely able to taking good care of themselves,” Miller mentioned on the ground. “The Democrats on this Home, and the remainder of the federal authorities, have no idea higher than you, they usually by no means have. Since when did the federal authorities grow to be your physician?”

After all, few household medical doctors and even fewer Home Republicans are epidemiologists. Nevertheless it’s easy to find epidemiologists who assume masks assist gradual the unfold of Covid. | GOP masks defiance is all concerning the 2022 poll field


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