Far-right US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has compared the mask mandate on the US House floor to Nazi Germany’s requirement for Jews to wear a yellow star during the Holocaust, drawing pushback from Jewish organizations.
“You know, we can look back at a time in history where people were told to wear a gold star, and they were definitely treated like second class citizens, so much so that they were put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany,” Greene told The Water Cooler with David Brody podcast. “And this is exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about.”
Greene, a first-term lawmaker from Georgia who has expressed belief in the antisemitic QAnon conspiracy theory and blamed California wildfires on Rothschild-funded space lasers, has openly defied the mask order.
In response to her comparison, the American Jewish Committee, in a tweet, said: “Antisemitism is real, dangerous, and on the rise. Equating public health precautions with the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust is disgraceful and unacceptable.”
Many Republicans have protested the mask order in Congress.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, last week led an effort to get the Office of the Attending Physician to update its guidance for mask wearing for vaccinated lawmakers and staff while they are in the House chamber and in committee hearing rooms, but Democrats defeated it along a party-line vote of 218-210.
Lawmakers can remove their masks when speaking on the House floor, but otherwise must keep it on when they are in the chamber. There is no requirement for wearing masks in the Senate chamber.
Democratic lawmakers say they are tired of the requirements, too, but they worry that some of their Republican colleagues have declined to be vaccinated and could spread the virus.
Some GOP lawmakers opted to go without a mask during votes Tuesday, with a few taking particular care to stand in the well of the chamber to ensure that spectators, colleagues and C-SPAN’s cameras could not miss them.
The mask revolt in the House has been brewing for months, with some Republicans chafing at the extra safety precautions imposed during the pandemic and bolstered after the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. Democrats imposed mask requirements last year when many Republicans, defying public health guidance, refused to wear face coverings.
The complaints from some Republicans have grown louder now that the CDC has altered its mask guidelines, saying it’s safe for fully vaccinated people to skip face coverings and social distancing in virtually all situations.
The CDC guidelines say all people should still wear masks in crowded indoor locations such as airplanes, buses, hospitals and prisons. Lawmakers and others in the Capitol have stopped wearing masks when moving around the building.
Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the Office of the Attending Physician has been consistently conferring with the CDC, and as recently as Tuesday. He said new guidance issued Wednesday states the mask requirement is “entirely consistent” with the CDC’s recommendations and has ensured that the House can debate and pass legislation safely and effectively.
“If Minority Leader McCarthy wants to be maskless on the Floor of the House of Representatives, he should get to work vaccinating his Members,” Hammill wrote.
Greene took to the House floor again on Wednesday without her mask. She remained in the chamber for much of the day and at times positioned herself in a chair behind the Republican lawmakers who spoke on the floor, which ensured she would be seen by television viewers.
Greene, a Georgia Republican who made national headlines for her promotion of the antisemitism-fueled QAnon theory during her campaign for Congress, has been a controversial presence since taking office in January. In response to her antisemitic comments, the House voted to strip Greene of her committee assignments just weeks later in February, with only 11 Republicans joining Democrats in the majority.