Illinois Dems vote to remove 9 GOP lawmakers for violating mask mandate

anti-mask protest
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House Democrats in Illinois recently voted to remove nine Republican lawmakers after they refused to comply with the chamber's mask mandate.

On Thursday, February 18, Democrats voted 66-39 to remove the following Republican lawmakers: Reps. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford, Ill.) Tony McCombie (R-Savanna, Ill.) Blaine Wilhour (Beecher City, Ill.) Brad Halbrook (R-Shelbyville, Ill.) Adam Niemerg (R-Dieterich, Ill.) David Welter (R-Morris, Ill.) David Friess (R-Red Bud, Ill.) Chris Miller (R-Oakland, Ill.) and Andrew Chesney (R-Freeport, Ill.)

According to The Daily Herald, Illinois' House mask mandate was implemented at the onset of the pandemic back in 2020. Per House rules, all members to wear a mask "unless they are eating, drinking or speaking into the microphone."

The vote to remove the non-compliant lawmakers came from Rep. Lakesia Collins (D-Chicago, Ill.). Speaking to the Daily Herald, Collins said, "If you choose not to wear your mask, do that outside of the chamber. But while we're in here, I ask that you respect the chamber's rules, wear your masks, and get the work done."

Reacting to the removal, Niemerg spoke out against the vote.

"We're not sitting over here and telling you to take off your masks. We're merely asking you to respect us as we respect you," Niemerg said.

House Republican leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs, Ill.) also weighed in on the sanction and he advised Democrats and Republicans to "act with 'civility' after receiving a letter from House Speaker Emanuel 'Chris' Welch about a week ago regarding the chamber's need to 'be more civil and work more collaboratively together.'"

"It does not put me in a frame of mind that there is still a place for civility where we can actually have an honest discourse between both sides of the aisle," Durkin said.

While speaking on the House floor, Rep. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield, Ill.) also expressed frustration. "I find it pretty unfortunate that this is the second vote we're having to remove members of the body and we haven't taken one vote or held one hearing on the governor's mitigations," Batinick said.

Rep. Seth Lewis (R) also explained the mask mandate from both sides. "I believe in masks, so wearing one is not a problem," he said following the vote. "But at the same time, to kick out members of the caucus, we're part of the Republican team."

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