Senators Blumenthal, Carper, Brown, and Hirono Introduce Senate Companion Bill to Congresswoman Garcia's Wear Your Mask Act

September 17, 2020
Press Release
Media Contact: Robert Julien (DC): Email: Robert.julien@mail.house.gov; Cell: 202-227-0330

WASHINGTON, DC – Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) introduced the Wear Your Mask Act today, the Senate companion bill to Congresswoman Garcia's Wear Your Mask Act. This bill would require all people in federal buildings and facilities across the country – including post offices, Social Security offices, and the U.S. Capitol – to wear a face mask any time they are within six feet of another person.

“Mask wearing should be considered a moral and health mandate— our single best method to combat the coronavirus,” said Blumenthal. “Backed by both common sense and science, our measure would impose this public health imperative in all federal buildings. Even with a vaccine, mask wearing will be a vital tool in conquering COVID-19, along with physical distancing and similar public health steps. This measure makes masks more available as well as mandatory, setting a model for all buildings.”

“When it comes to finding solutions for tough problems, I often say that we should find out what works and do more of that,” said Carper. “The challenges our country faces today with COVID-19 are daunting, but the science is clear, and we know what works in our battle against this deadly virus. Health experts around the world have made it abundantly clear: wearing a mask reduces transmission of the coronavirus. At a time when the American people are looking to the federal government to set a good example and be guided by science and facts, I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Wear Your Mask Act to do just that. Together, and with health experts leading the way, we can protect each other and make it through this pandemic a stronger and more resilient nation.”

“Workers in these buildings are risking their lives during this public health emergency to keep the federal government functioning, and this common-sense legislation would make going to work safer for them,” said Brown. “But it’s no substitute for the comprehensive workplace safety requirements the Trump Administration should have issued and enforced months ago that would require employers to protect workers, including those who work in federal buildings, from COVID-19.”

“The science is clear: wearing masks saves lives,” said Hirono. “Requiring masks inside federal buildings will reduce transmission of the coronavirus. I urge the Senate to swiftly consider this legislation to protect federal workers, visitors, and others.”

The legislation would also require masks to be provided to all employees, visitors, and others inside the federal buildings who do not have one. The bill would be in effect until the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases determines this requirement is no longer needed to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The House introduced its version of the Wear Your Mask Act in July, led by U.S. Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (D-TX).

“In the Houston region and across the country, we have seen the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our communities and one of the few tools we currently have available to reduce the spread of the virus is to wear a face mask,” said Garcia. “That’s why I introduced the Wear Your Mask Act in the House, and feel honored that Senators Blumenthal, Carper, Brown, and Hirono are leading the Senate version. As we continue fighting this virus, we must all take simple common-sense actions that will prioritize the safety and well-being of federal workers and the general public that visit federal government buildings. And for us, it should start by making sure that anyone who needs a face mask, but does not have one upon entering any federal building, will have access to a face mask for their safety and the safety of others.”

The legislation was endorsed by the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

“The CDC recommends that everyone above the age of 2 wear face masks in public settings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said American Federation of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley. “As the largest union representing federal and D.C. government workers, AFGE applauds Senator Blumenthal’s legislation, a companion to a House bill introduced by Rep. Garcia, that would require employees and visitors in any federally owned, leased, or operated buildings and facilities to wear masks until the threat of transmission has ended.”

The full text of the Senate legislation can be found here.

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Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 2018, becoming the first Latina ever to represent the Texas 29th Congressional District. She serves on the House Judiciary and Financial Services Committees.