Brown, who wore a mask as he spoke, said, “I would start by asking the president to ask him to wear a mask while he speaks.” Sullivan, who was not wearing a mask, replied briefly, “I don’t wear a mask when I speak, like most senators, I don’t need your instructions.”
The Texas Republican went on to say that Sullivan was “more than 50 feet” from his fellow senator, adding “the last time I checked 50 feet was more than 6 feet.” However, Cruz’s tweet was misleading, as Brown seemed to be referring to employees who were just a few feet from Sullivan while he was without masks.
The series of events marks the latest Capitol Hill outbreak due to the wearing of masks and occurs amid a deadly influx of coronavirus cases across the country. A number of members of Congress have tested positive or quarantined after exposure to Covid-19 in recent days.
Grassley, who as president pro tempore is the oldest Republican in the House, is 87 years old, which puts him at a vulnerable age to be infected with the virus. The Iowa Republican spoke on the floor in the Senate on Monday and was spotted in the Capitol speaking to reporters Monday afternoon.
In comments to Sullivan on the Senate floor, the Ohio Democrat said there were “people under him” as he spoke.
He went on to say, “obviously there is not much interest on the part of this body in public health.”
Since the pandemic began, there have been many cases in which senators do not appear adequately socially remote on the Senate floor, especially during voting.