Democrat lawmakers are trying to put some distance between themselves and the pro-mask stance they took during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Hill is reporting.
The news outlet noted the strong pro-mask stance is becoming more and more of a political liability in the U.S. Lawmakers point to polls showing President Joe Biden's approval ratings at 40% or less.
Lawmakers claim COVID-19 fatigue is a key reason why many voters are not satisfied with the direction of the U.S.
Biden's approval rating sank to 37%, a Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Sunday.
The survey conducted ahead of Biden's State of the Union address showed the president with a 55% disapproval rating.
The Hill noted hardly any Democrat senators wore masks on the House floor when Biden gave his State of the Union address on Tuesday. Brian Monahan, the Capitol's attending physician, had said people would no longer be required to wear masks in the chamber. Monahan announced masks would be optional.
More and more Democrats have ditched their masks in the hall of Congress and joined Republican counterparts, who got rid of their face coverings long ago, according to The Hill.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., stopped wearing a mask in the Capitol this week. She said the decision was based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"We [Stabenow and her colleagues] have discussed it and now based on the science, it's really recommended to be an individual decision," she said. "Based on what Monahan said, based on D.C. lifting [its mask mandate], it's become something that's more of an individual decision."
Washington's city government stopped mandating masks at restaurants, bars, sports venues, gyms, and grocery stores as of Tuesday.
Neither Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., nor Biden's Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson wore a mask when they met for a photo opportunity just off the Senate floor.
"As the president said, Democrats have done a … very good job at getting us out of the COVID mess, and we're about to turn the corner," Schumer said.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said mask mandates are hurting Democrats.
"[Biden] made it political in his campaign against [Donald] Trump, and he's paying the price for that," he said.
"It's schools and it's education and it's parents' roles in their kids' education. All that stuff has flowed from that [mask] controversy, and I think they're paying a political price for it now."
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