Biden: ‘Irresponsible’ of Republicans to refuse masks while sheltering during Capitol riot

By: - January 12, 2021 9:01 am

Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, shown during a campaign appearance in Grand Rapids, Mich., on Oct. 2, 2020. Credit: Andrew Roth

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday chastised GOP lawmakers for refusing to wear masks while they were held in a safe location as a violent mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol last week.

As lawmakers waited for law enforcement to secure the Capitol on Wednesday, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) went around a packed room passing out masks to people without them, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“When they were hiding from the mob, she was going around trying to hand out masks to everybody,” Biden said to a group of reporters. “And her Republican colleagues wouldn’t wear a mask. I think it’s irresponsible.”

In a video obtained by Punchbowl News, Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.), and Michael Cloud (R-Texas), were not wearing masks, and they turned down the disposable masks that Rochester was offering.

“It’s not a political issue,” Biden said. “It’s an issue of public safety.”

There were nearly 100 people in the room, according to multiple media reports.

“While I was disappointed in my colleagues who refused to wear a mask, I was encouraged by those who did,” Rochester wrote on Twitter Friday. “My goal, in the midst of what I feared was a super spreader event, was to make the room at least a little safer.”

More than 22.5 million Americans are infected with COVID-19 and more than 375,000 people have died from coronavirus in the United States.

The attending physician of the Capitol, Dr. Brian Monahan, also raised concerns to lawmakers about possible COVID-19 exposures from the rioters last week.

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, (D-N.J.), announced Monday on Twitter that she had tested positive for COVID-19. She said she decided to get tested after she had to stay in a room with Republicans who did not wear masks. Coleman is a cancer survivor.

“I received a positive test result for COVID-19, and am home resting at this time,” she said in a written statement. “While I am experiencing mild, cold-like symptoms, I remain in good spirits and will continue to work on behalf of my constituents.”

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) also announced that he and another lawmaker he lives with had tested positive for COVID-19.

“I currently feel okay and remain in contact with the attending physician,” he said in a statement. “I again, want to urge all Americans to continue to wear masks, practice proper hygiene, and follow CDC guidance as we work to combat COVID-19.”

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Ariana Figueroa
Ariana Figueroa

Ariana covers the nation's capital for States Newsroom. Her areas of coverage include politics and policy, lobbying, elections and campaign finance.