Joe Biden did not wear a mask during his first big speech to Congress on Wednesday, the Washington Free Beacon reported, despite rules put into place by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pelosi’s strict mask rule, which carries steep fines, requires lawmakers to wear their masks even when speaking on the House floor. But Biden, who customarily takes his mask off during public addresses, was technically not obliged to follow it.
Breaking the rules
Biden approached the podium in a black mask, then removed it before delivering about an hour of remarks. Pelosi and Vice President Kamala Harris, who are both vaccinated, were seated behind him, both wearing masks.
The House of Representatives had a funereal look as Biden spoke before a thinly populated room of fully vaccinated lawmakers, all with their faces covered.
The somber spectacle seemed to reflect what many have called an overzealous — and theatrical — approach from Biden and his Democratic allies.
Even liberal doctor Leana Wen, who recently expressed anxiety about Americans going about their lives freely, thought the imagery sent the wrong message about the vaccine, she wrote for The Washington Post.
While some may criticize Biden’s lack of consistency, many have questioned why he continues to wear a mask at all, given that he is vaccinated. Nevertheless, Biden has insisted on vigilant adherence to restrictions.
Biden’s mask theater
In his wide-ranging remarks Wednesday, Biden stuck to a familiar theme: while boasting of “progress,” he insisted that “we can’t let our guard down” when it comes to COVID-19.
“But tonight I can say it because of you — the American people — our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history has been one of the greatest logistical achievements this country has ever seen,” he bragged, according to a transcript.
Biden has continued to sow confusion on the issue of the coronavirus. At an outdoor event Tuesday, Biden sought to cast in a celebratory light new federal guidelines proclaiming that vaccinated people do not have to wear masks outside. Yet, as the New York Post noted, Biden was wearing a mask.
At a rally in Georgia on Thursday, Biden was pitching his agenda when he suddenly lost track of his mask. “I’m looking for my mask. I’m in trouble,” Biden said on a hot mic, according to Fox News.
He spent a few moments looking for it before triumphantly tearing it out of his pocket.