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Democrats introduce bill to require face masks inside federal facilities

White House task force may soon recommend Americans wear masks

A bill introduced Monday in the United States Congress would require anyone inside a federal facility to wear a protective face mask to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The “Wear Your Mask Act,” introduced by Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, would make masks mandatory inside all U.S. government facilities and for anyone standing within 6 feet of another individual in those buildings. The bill also states that an agency could forcibly “remove or deny service to an individual who fails to wear a mask.”

The legislation was first reported by Politico.

Garcia later confirmed the news on her official Twitter account.

“I introduced the #WearYourMask Act, which would require individuals in any federally owned, leased or operated facilities or buildings to wear a face mask,” she wrote.

“In the Houston region & across the U.S. we’re observing spikes in #COVID19 cases,” she said in a news release. “We know face masks save lives, which is why as Members of Congress, we must take actions that prioritize the safety of federal workers & the general public.”

The mandate would remain in effect until Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advises otherwise, according to the bill.

Garcia introduced House Resolution 7524 on Monday as President Donald Trump and other administration officials have sought to publicly discredit the nation’s top infectious diseases expert while also challenging the CDC’s guidelines to reopen schools next month as cases surge again.

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Fauci has been sidelined for weeks, limiting his exposure to the public to provide health advice which often contradicts the president’s.

“Dr. Fauci is a nice man, but he’s made a lot of mistakes,” Trump told Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity in a call-in interview last week, pointing to changes in guidance on mask-wearing over time.

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Reports said Fauci recently told the Financial Times that he and the president have not spoken since June 2.

On Monday, the president retweeted a conspiracy theory from ex-game show host Chuck Woolery attempting to discredit pandemic warnings by the nation’s top health officials.

Adm. Brett Giroir, another member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, attempted to undercut Fauci over the weekend, saying his colleague doesn't necessarily "have the whole national interest in mind" in suggesting responses to the pandemic.

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Fauci, who also sits on the task force, “looks at it from a very narrow public health point of view,” Giroir, assistant secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “He admits that.”

Garcia’s bill, meanwhile, calls for the face masks to be made available at the entrance of each federal agency, a copy of the legislation states.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C., Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard of California, Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Rep. Veronica Escobar of Texas and Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana.

No Republicans were signed onto the bill.