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Senators Clash Over Mask-Wearing Inside the Capitol

The exchange was fiery to say the least.

Of all the fights that we’ve had as a nation as of late, none has been more pervasive and permeating than that of the efficacy and necessity of face masks in the fight against COVID-19.

For those who identify as proponents of the practice, there is seemingly no reason to not wear a mask.  They see this as a duty to the betterment of society, and they simply can’t understand why someone wouldn’t simply comply with the ordinances and proclamations being set forth by local and state officials.

For those who oppose the mandating of masks, the issue is one of personal freedom.  We allow Americans to drink, smoke cigarettes, and, in the case of Oregon, do just about any other drug they want…why would we force anyone to mitigate any other risk?

This fight has now made it on to the Senate floor, after a fiery exchange between two elected officials made headlines.

As he took the floor to rail against Federal Reserve nominee Judith Shelton, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) first took aim at Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who was presiding over the Senate. Before he began his remarks on Shelton, Brown said: “I start by asking the presiding officer to wear a mask.”

“I don’t wear a mask when I’m speaking,” Sullivan retorted, a rare response from the senator presiding over the Senate. “I don’t need your instruction.”

Brown said the moment was emblematic of a Senate where “there isn’t much interest … in public health.”

“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, referring to potentially spreading the coronavirus to staffers. “The majority leader just doesn’t seem to care.”

This is one of the first time that two American politicians have directly sparred on the subject of face masks inside the Capitol or on the record.

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