Dingell, Brown Propose $1,000 Fine for Maskless Members of Congress

January 12, 2021 by Dan McCue
Rep. Debbie Dingell

WASHINGTON – Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Anthony Brown, D-Md., are tired of colleagues who refuse to wear a face mask to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, they are urging the House to impose a $1,000 a day fine on any member of Congress who refuses to wear a mask on Capitol grounds for the duration of the pandemic.

Dingel and Brown’s legislation comes after three members of the U.S. House tested positive for COVID-19 following last week’s riot at the Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

During the riot, lawmakers who were on the House floor, some staff and even members of the press were evacuated to one location and held there for a prolonged period.

Dingell was among them and she observed several of her fellow legislators not wearing masks despite the continued spread of COVID-19.

The members’ failure to wear masks has the potential of turning the already tragic riots in which five people died into a super-spreader event.

“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask,” Dingell said. “It is selfish, stupid and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk.”

“Days ago, a colleague of ours died from this virus and left behind a beautiful, young family to mourn his loss,” she said, referring to the death of Luke Letlow, a newly elected Republican from Louisiana who died due to complications from the virus.

Despite this loss, and “in the midst of a deadly assault on our United States Capitol, a number of our Republican colleagues laughed off rules designed to keep not just their colleagues safe, but to protect the lives of the teams of workers keeping things going, law enforcement, and staff throughout the Capitol.

“Now, three of our colleagues are suffering from the virus,” Dingell said.

“We’re done playing games. Either have some common sense and wear a damn mask or pay a fine. It’s not that complicated,” Dingell continued.

The three latest members to test positive for the coronavirus are Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and Brad Schneider, D-Ill, all of whom regularly wear masks on Capitol Hill.

“Members refusing to mask and distance in the Capitol put other members, aides, support staff and their families at risk,” said Brown. “There must be consequences for selfish and reckless actions that endanger the lives of others. No member of Congress should be able to ignore the rules or put others at risk without penalty. As the people’s representatives it is critical that we set an example for the rest of the country. If members jeopardize the safety of others they should face fines.”

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