Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz wears gas mask during vote to address new coronavirus

Just before the vote, Gaetz referred to the House floor as a "Petri dish."

March 4, 2020, 6:04 PM

As the House of Representatives voted on a $8.3 billion emergency measure to fund the administration's response to the new coronavirus, one lawmaker caught the attention of Capitol Hill when he wore a gas mask onto the floor.

Rep. Matt Gaetz wears a gas mask on the House floor in Washington during a vote on coronavirus emergency funding, in a photo posted to Twitter by Rep. Jim Himes on March 4, 2020.
Jim Himes via Twitter

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close ally of President Donald Trump who is serving in his second term, first tweeted a picture showing him wear a gas mask as he reviewed the bill in his office.

A short time later, Connecticut Democrat Jim Himes tweeted a photo that showed Gaetz seated in a chair in the House chamber ahead of the vote.

Just before the vote, Gaetz, not hiding his disgust, referred to the House floor as a "Petri dish."

"Essentially the floor of the Congress is a Petri dish. We all fly into these dirty airports, we touch and selfie everyone we meet, and then we congregate together," Gaetz said.

A statement from Gaetz's office added, "If there’s anybody that’s going to get coronavirus it’s going to be the United States Congress. House rules do not explicitly allow medical headgear even at this time of heightened concern. This is a rule that should be revisited."

Reps. Matt Gaetz, center, and Andy Biggs arrive for a Congressional briefing in the Capitol Visitor Center about the coronavirus outbreak on March 4, 2020.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Asked if leadership is considering closing parts of the Capitol to the public, Gaetz replied, "I've been in support of closing a good amount of Congress for quite some time."

The vote passed 415 to 2, with Gaetz voting in favor with most of his Republican and Democratic colleagues.

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