Black U.S. Rep. Kicked Off House Floor For Honoring Trayvon Martin Calls Out Hypocrisy Of Congress After White Colleague Wears Gas Mask
The Illinois congressman slammed Congress for allowing another lawmaker to mock the coronavirus crisis even though he was removed for just a hoody.
March 06, 2020 at 9:52 pm
As Congress began voting on an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, Gaetz wore a gas mask, mocking concern about the virus' spread, CNN reported. He even tweeted out a photo of himself in the mask as he read the funding bill, which he eventually voted for but criticized after.
People on social media were outraged after seeing the photo of Gaetz joking around in the mask, but Gaetz tried to claim he was serious about wearing it in Congress despite an infamous ban on any headgear.
Reviewing the coronavirus supplemental appropriation and preparing to go vote. pic.twitter.com/wjJ4YY4VZz— Rep. Matt Gaetz (@RepMattGaetz) March 4, 2020
"If there’s anybody that’s going to get coronavirus it’s going to be the United States Congress. House rules do not explicitly allow medical headgear even at this time of heightened concern. This is a rule that should be revisited," Gaetz said in a statement, according to ABC News.
Other members of Congress spoke out about Gaetz, and some other Republican representatives either voted against the funding bill or downplayed concerns about how the virus was spreading.
Rush, a congressman from Illinois and former civil rights activist, was particularly incensed by Gaetz's actions because, in 2012, he was removed from the House floor after giving a speech about Trayvon Martin while wearing a hoodie.
At the time, Mississippi Republican Greg Harper began to bang his gavel and said: "The chair must remind members that clause 5 of rule 17 prohibits the wearing of hats in the chamber when the House is in session."
In 2012, I wore a hoodie on the House Floor to make a statement about the deadly consequences of racial profiling. On Wednesday, @RepMattGaetz wore a gas mask in the chamber, making light of an epidemic that has killed 14 Americans.— Bobby L. Rush (@RepBobbyRush) March 6, 2020
Guess which one of us was forcibly removed. pic.twitter.com/nh2LHPeIFW
A floor clerk eventually forced Rush away from the microphone, and the moment caused massive outrage across the country, with many saying it symbolized the kind of unfair standards that are imposed on Black people, even in Congress.
However, on Thursday, when the sergeant-at-arms asked Gaetz to take off the gas mask while in the chamber, he refused. Despite breaking the very same rules about headgear, Gaetz was not removed from the chamber and was allowed to stay through the vote, The Hill reported.
Rush and others noted the unfairness of how the rule was applied while highlighting growing concern about the government's handling of the virus. Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been spreading across the world for months now.
As late as Thursday, nurses and doctors in New York, California and other states sounded the alarm about the need for tests and expressed outrage at the responses they were getting from federal officials when they asked for assistance in dealing with the virus.
In another tweet, Rush noted the seriousness of the crisis and implored people to go to the CDC website for more information about how they can protect themselves.
The funding bill for coronavirus measures passed in the House with a vote of 415 to 2 with 13 members not voting at all, CNBC reported.
Double standards aside, the coronavirus is not a joke and the thousands of deaths worldwide are not to be taken lightly.— Bobby L. Rush (@RepBobbyRush) March 6, 2020
The @CDCgov has laid out a number of preventative measures we can take to stop the spread of this deadly disease—no gas mask required: https://t.co/OsE6xN3qUK pic.twitter.com/xxoUKNyCsO