Congress Ends Its Own Mask Mandate—But Leaves in Place One on You

Ahead of gathering for President Biden’s State of the Union address this Tuesday, Congress has scrapped its mask requirement. 

Face coverings are now optional for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address Tuesday, as Congress is lifting its mask requirement on the House floor after federal regulators eased guidelines last week in a rethinking of the nation’s strategy to adapt to living with a more manageable COVID-19,” ABC News reports. “Congress’ Office of the Attending Physician announced the policy change Sunday, lifting a requirement that has been in place for much of the past two years and had become a partisan flashpoint on Capitol Hill.”

“I think you’re going to see it look much more like a normal state of the union than the president’s joint address,” said Ron Klain, White House chief of staff. “It’s going to look like the most normal thing people have seen in Washington in a long time.”

Of course, I have no objection to this in and of itself. Mask-wearing should be a personal choice in all situations, including meetings of Congress. What makes this move so noxious is that Congress continues to impose mask mandates on the American people, such as the air travel mask mandate.

For example, Senator Rand Paul recently moved to force a vote in the Senate to end the federal government’s ongoing mandate requiring mask-wearing in all public transportation, such as air travel. Under the status quo, the federal government is requiring Americans to wear masks even in highly safe, ventilated environments like airplanes—regardless of whether they are vaccinated and/or young, healthy, and at very low risk from COVID-19. 

The feds have stripped us of our personal choice on this most intimate question of bodily autonomy—yet are reclaiming it for themselves. This even though they will likely be crammed like sardines into the Capitol for the State of the Union address and even though many members of Congress are elderly and at high risk from COVID-19. 

To be clear, I still believe they should have the choice. But if we were going to force someone to mask up, surely it should be the decrepit octogenarians huddled together in DC before healthy people in well-ventilated aircraft or children at no risk in classrooms across America? (To be fair, state/local classroom mask mandates aren’t federal policy, but many members of Congress do support them!)

This is just another example of the “rules for thee, not me” mentality rife among our political class since Day One of the pandemic. Don’t forget that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was caught maskless at an indoor salon that was supposed to be closed. Countless dozens of other politicians engaged in similar hypocrisy (including some Republicans).

It’s long past time for us to stop listening to what these people say, and start following the real message sent by their actions. 

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.