California Senator Dianne Feinstein (D) said Thursday that she planned to introduce an amendment to the next coronavirus economic relief bill that would block stimulus funding to states that refuse to implement mask mandates.
“Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period.” Feinstein said in a statement issued Thursday, declaring that Congress needed to enforce more measures to encourage states to adopt mask requirements that help to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The Democratic congresswoman revealed her plan to introduce an amendment that would “prohibit sending funds to states that haven’t adopted a statewide mask requirement,” when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) takes up discussions about another coronavirus economic relief bill later this month.
“My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in. This is a matter of life or death, and partisan politics shouldn’t play a role,” she said.
Feinstein’s statement comes as just about half of the states have issued some form of mask mandate – while others have dialed up their resistance. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed an executive order banning local officials for mandating masks on Thursday and escalated that move by filing a lawsuit against Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms mask requirement in Atlanta. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) has also refused a mask mandate even as the coronavirus killed more than 138,000 people in the United States so far.
On Monday, during a coronavirus briefing for Mecklenburg County in North Carolina, CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said “the most powerful weapon” Americans have in defense against the coronavirus are face coverings.
“If all of us would put on a face covering now for the next four to six weeks, we could drive this epidemic to the ground,” Redfield said.
President Donald Trump who has stoked political division by making mask-wearing into a partisan issue, largely refuses to advocate for their use. The President is also seldom seen wearing a mask. The most notable – if not only – instance in recent memory of him wearing a mask was during visit to injured veterans at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last Saturday. Days later the President greeted Kemp on a tarmac at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport without a mask just hours before the Georgia lawmaker issued an executive order suspending local mask rules throughout the state.