Several first-term House Republicans reportedly declined invitations to Tuesday's White House reception for freshmen House members as a means of protesting the event's COVID-19 rules.
According to Axios, the Republicans are disputing having COVID-19 rules in place — whether it involves vaccine status, masking, or social distancing — four months after President Joe Biden declared the pandemic to be "over" on CBS's "60 Minutes."
A statement provided to Axios from Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., reads: "Rep. Luna will not be attending. Even the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has recognized that COVID is no longer a pandemic."
A spokesperson for Rep. Mike Collins, R-Ga., told Axios the congressman "has moved on from the pandemic and doesn't plan on attending anything that still requires testing."
Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., acknowledged his reason for declining the White House reception involved the requirements of producing a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours, along with presenting proof of vaccination.
"I am forgoing a historic trip to the White House to raise awareness of this punitive policy in hopes that President Biden will reverse it and other arbitrary, outdated, and unscientific restrictions across the federal system," said LaLota.
Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, tweeted this about his planned no-show for Tuesday's event: "President Biden declared on national television that the pandemic was over. However, the White House is requiring a negative COVID test to attend tonight's taxpayer funded soirée. I politely decline."
The GOP boycott might also serve the purpose of precluding Biden, or any other White House official, from getting up-close access to any House Republicans for the purpose of lobbying congressional bills, Axios reports.
On Monday, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said that "everyone is invited [Tuesday] who is part of the new Congress."
Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., reportedly won't be attending, but that might stem from a variety of ancillary reasons, since he has been dealing with a media onslaught ever since he admitted to "embellishing" a number of accomplishments from his personal and professional background — after winning a congressional seat in November.
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