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Members of the Illinois state House have voted to remove a Republican lawmaker after he refused to don a mask during the session, claiming that his actions endangered lives amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The chamber voted 81-27 to dismiss Rep. Darren Bailey for refusing to put on a face mask after legislators voted to adopt the rule, according to NBC Chicago. The motion to remove Bailey from the chamber was made by Democratic Rep. Chris Welch.
A number of Republican lawmakers sided with the majority in removing Bailey.
“We cannot ignore nor compromise the health and safety of every member in the General Assembly, their family members, and every one of our staffers who work tirelessly for us,” said House Republican Leader Jim Durkin.
Bailey remained defiant, however. “I cannot sit in there and be part of just a puppet game,” he told reporters after being removed from the House session, adding that he is trying to stand up for citizens in his district who are out of work because their jobs have been deemed ‘non-essential.’
He has also refused to take a coronavirus test.
Other Republican lawmakers had threatened not to wear a mask as well but later relented after the chamber adopted the rule.
“If we are required. I will play along,” Rep. Chris Miller said, according to NBC Chicago. “I don’t want to be a distraction from the real issues of [Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s] Failed [sic] leadership.”
“If the rule is adopted I will abide by it,” Rep. Brad Halbrook added. “I trust that we will spend as much time on the long-overdue issues of spending reform, pension reform, property tax, and many other needed reforms.”
Pritzker, who is coming under increasing fire from Republicans and state residents for his refusal to allow the state to reopen more quickly as the pandemic wanes, was critical of Bailey.
“The representative has shown a callous disregard for life, callous disregard for people’s health,” Pritzker reportedly said. “You just [ask] a doctor [to] tell you why people wear masks in the first place. It’s to protect others. So clearly, the representative has no interest in protecting others.”
Earlier this month, Pritzker doubled down on his earlier lockdown order, suggesting that residents of the state may have to get used to a new normal: Mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and other measures if they want to see the state reopened.
“We are being very careful,” Pritzker told Tapper on “State of the Union.”
“We have a 28-day period in May in which we’re monitoring these numbers. On May 1, I changed our stay-at-home order to make sure we reopened our state parks and kept people socially distant, put a lot of rules in. We opened golf courses, but only for very small groups going through it, no carts, everybody has to have their own clubs and everybody has to have masks,” the governor continued.
“Everybody across the state has to wear a face-covering in public,” the Democrat said. “We’ve done a lot to make sure we’re keeping these numbers moving in the right direction. And we will not reopen unless we meet all of the standards that I’ve set for doing so.”
WGN reported Wednesday that a group of protesters showed up outside the state Capitol Building to demand that Pritzker reopen the state more quickly.
Also, a number of Republican lawmakers are calling on Pritzker to allow local governments who they say are in a better position to gauge their readiness for reopening.
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