President-elect Joe Biden has been portrayed by his supporters as someone who will restore civility to the White House.
In response to reports that multiple congressional Republicans refused to wear face masks during a riot on Capitol Hill earlier this month, however, the former vice president lost his cool. He reacted with outrage during comments on Friday, asking: “What the hell’s the matter with them.”
“Matters of life and death”
Just days before he is set to be inaugurated, Biden took aim at GOP lawmakers now being blamed for potentially spreading COVID-19 to other members of Congress.
“It’s time to grow up,” the president-elect declared in a speech otherwise focused on his plan to speed up COVID-19 vaccinations.
Biden reacted to “shocking” video footage of several Republicans declining a face covering while they were in lockdown during the Jan. 6 mob takeover of the Capitol building.
“I know it’s become a partisan issue, but what a stupid, stupid thing for it to happen,” he declared said. “For God’s sake, wear a mask. If not yourself but for your loved ones, for your country. These are really matters of life and death.”
Shortly before a fifth member of Congress announced a positive test result, Biden furthered the growing argument that those Republicans without masks possibly contributed to the virus’s spread.
“One of our 100-day challenges”
“The result, at least four members of Congress to date, including a cancer survivor, now have COVID-19 who were in those rooms,” he said.
Of course, these individuals were not the only theoretical cause of viral spread among elected officials. Just days before the riot, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) allowed a congresswoman who tested positive for the virus to vote on the House floor.
In any case, Biden reiterated “one of our 100-day challenges” in his administration will be to encourage all Americans to wear a mask in public.
“The day we are inaugurated, I’m going to ask you to mask up for the next 100 days,” he said. “This is not a political issue.”
Biden’s remarks came one day after the release of his $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” which includes direct payments of $1,400 to individuals in addition to a range of other proposals meant to provide relief and assistance to Americans continuing to struggle amid the public health crisis. As for his recommended pandemic-related mandates, however, multiple studies show that mandatory lockdown measures do not lead to noticeably more advantageous results than voluntary efforts.