Reports said that the large group of maskless House Republican lawmakers walked onto the Senate floor on Thursday in protest at the regulations.
The protest comes after Congress’s chief physician urged lawmakers to resume wearing masks. The directive from the office of the attending physician did not require renewed mask-wearing on the Senate side.
The new regulations have prompted uproar from members of the GOP, who argue that the rules are inconsistent, partisan and infringe on their individual liberties.
Among those who demonstrated in the Senate chamber were controversial lawmakers Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.
Both have vehemently decried mask mandates throughout the pandemic. Ms Boebert is said to have thrown a face mask back at a congressional staffer after being asked to wear one and Ms Greene previously shredded a fine for refusing to wear a face covering.
New York Magazine reported that Texas Representative Ronny Jackson said that the protest’s aim was to show “what it was like on the floor of the Senate versus the floor of the House”.
Senators “have the freedom to speak without their mask on and be in there and it’s not near as restrictive as it is on the House side. It makes no sense,” the representative told The Hill.
A number of Republican lawmakers have condemned the reimposed mask mandate, with House minority leader Kevin McCarthy saying Democrats want to live in a “perpetual pandemic state”
"Make no mistake – the threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,” he said on Twitter.
Hitting back at the Republican leader House speaker Nancy Pelosi called his attitude “moronic”.
“To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think is not wise,” she said.
The body of the 100-member Senate is much smaller than the 435-member House and members come to Washington from places all over the country. Including Covid hotspots.
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said fully vaccinated adults should continue to wear masks when inside public places where there are high numbers of coronavirus infections.
The contention comes in the same week that the head of the US Capitol Police announced that aides and visitors on the House side of the Capitol will face arrest if they go maskless.
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