This weekend, Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana blasted an executive order signed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to ensure parents get to decide whether their children should wear masks this upcoming school year.
However, DeSantis’ approach appears to be very popular among most conservatives — meaning Cassidy’s position could well amount to political suicide.
According to the text of the measure, DeSantis’ order stipulates that the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Education must ensure coronavirus-related rules and policies do not violate the constitutional freedoms of Floridians.
The agencies must also defend or the right of parents to make health care decisions for their children as well as safeguard “children with disabilities or health conditions who would be harmed by certain protocols such as face masking requirements.”
“It should not be mandated”
Importantly, school districts whose COVID-19 protocols are found to be in violation of the order are liable to have their state funding cut, the order stipulates.
After the order was signed, Broward County Public Schools in Florida announced that it was backing off from its planned requirement that students wear masks when they return to class, the Washington Examiner reported.
“Our view is that this should absolutely not be imposed,” Gov. DeSantis said at a roundtable discussion, according to the Examiner. “It should not be mandated.”
“I do disagree”
The Examiner noted that this didn’t go over well with Cassidy, who aired his thoughts during a Sunday appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
“I’m a conservative,” Cassidy declared. “I think you govern best when you govern closest to the people being governed and if a local community…their ICU is full…then the local officials should be listened to. That is a conservative principle.
“I do disagree with Gov. DeSantis,” he added, according to the Examiner. “The local officials should have control here. I don’t want top-down from Washington, D.C. I don’t want top-down from a governor’s office.”
That seems to be the minority position within Cassidy’s party, as many Republicans are fed up with what they perceive to be overreach by unelected bureaucrats.
Among them is House Republican Caucus Chair Elise Stefanik (NY), who recently complained to Fox News host Maria Bartiromo about the use of the pandemic as an excuse to “chip away” at Americans’ civil liberties.