Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) chimed in on a now-viral clip showing senators briefly clashing over masks on the floor of the U.S. Senate on Monday, quickly attracting ire from Twitter users who called him callous and out of touch.
The incident involved Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who asked his colleague Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) to “please wear a mask” to keep others from potentially being exposed to COVID-19. Sullivan reacted to the suggestion by saying that he didn’t need Brown’s instructions.
“I know you don’t need my instruction, but there clearly isn’t much interest in this body in public health,” Sen. Brown replied, before blasting Sullivan for exposing staffers “who can’t say anything.”
Cruz dismissed the entire incident, insisted that Sullivan was sitting over 50 feet away and calling Brown “a complete ass” who was parading his mask as “an ostentatious sign of fake virtue.”
While Sullivan may have been sitting far from Brown, Cruz’s analysis of the situation ignores Brown’s words about protecting regular workers in the Senate, as well as the fact that these staffers were well within 6 feet of Sullivan ― including a woman who can be seen in the bottom left of the footage.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has mandated masks since July, there is currently no such rule in the Senate. There, face coverings are only recommended, according to a Washington Post report which indicates that partisan disagreements over health guidelines in the U.S. Capitol have resulted in congressional leaders unable to “even agree on what type of thermometer to use to monitor lawmakers and aides for coronavirus symptoms.”