GOP lawmaker calls for a ban on stylized masks on the House floor
Posted December 7, 2020 8:44 p.m. EST
CNN — Face masks have become the new normal on Capitol Hill, and one Republican congressman is calling out some lawmakers for the messages they have chosen to put on their masks.
US Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week saying face masks worn by some members diminish "the seriousness and decorum of the House floor."
"The best solution is likely a blanket ban on stylized facemasks," he wrote.
Pelosi mandated face masks for all members and aides on the House floor in late July after a Republican member of the House -- who refused to wear a face covering -- tested positive for coronavirus. Members are only permitted to temporarily remove their masks while speaking.
In his letter to the speaker, Banks specifically cited instances in which he says two Democratic congressmen may have violated House rules last week while on the floor.
He noted a mask worn by Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas which displayed the congressman's campaign logo.
"This is an obvious violation of the House's prohibition on the use of official resources for campaign purposes," Banks wrote. "All members are disallowed from wearing campaign pins on the House floor, and this is no different. It also could be considered a violation of, H. Res. 5, which prohibits the use of Congressional broadcasts for partisan political purposes."
Banks also mentioned the face mask worn by Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon.
According to Banks, Blumenauer donned a mask covered in marijuana leaves.
"Legality aside, it's unbecoming for a House member to wear clothing that promotes the use of any recreational drugs on the House floor," he wrote. "It's a clear violation of the House's Code of Conduct which prohibits all behavior that does not, 'reflect creditably on the House.'"
When asked to respond to Banks' comments, Blumenauer said Monday, "We've got a blatantly discriminatory drug policy. We've got a pandemic, during which Republicans have done nothing to help families and small businesses that are desperate. And they're worried about a pattern on a mask? Get a grip."
CNN asked Pelosi and Cuellar to respond but didn't immediately hear back.
Banks goes on to list historical examples of when former House speakers like John Boehner and Dennis Hastert reprimanded members for not wearing the proper attire, adding that speakers have power to decide "whether or not members' dress is appropriate."
"Speaker Pelosi, you've allowed facemasks to be worn on the House floor that wouldn't be allowed in a High School assembly hall," he wrote. "It's unfortunate that some members can't resist using facemasks that undermine house decorum."
"It's time to restore dignity to the House," Banks added.