House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) refused to allow Republicans to remove their masks before tasting a hot drink.
Nadler has enforced social-distancing at an unprecedented level. He prohibited Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) from momentarily exposing their noses and mouths to drink a cup of coffee.
“I would remind Mr. Jordan, Mr. Biggs, and Mr. Johnson to stop violating the rules of the committee, to stop violating the safety of the members of the committee, [and] to stop holding themselves out as not caring by refusing to wear their masks,” the Democrat said in a video shared on YouTube.
One of the Republican congressmen, who was off-camera, tried to explain he had only temporarily removed his mask to have his hot beverage, and asked if that would be acceptable.
“Is it permissible to drink a sip of coffee?” he said.
However, Nadler angrily fired back that it is “not permissible,” causing the congressman to ask a reflective question to remove any possible misunderstandings.
“We cannot drink coffee?” the Republican said.
Nadler did not respond to the question and instead chose to loudly bang his gavel in a bid to show the discussion was over.
The gavel warning surprised one of the Republicans who became worried that there could be dire consequences.
“I think we are really asking for it now,” he said. “Unbelievable.”
According to Demeter’s Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, the chairman is not allowed to repeatedly bang his gavel to drown out a disorderly member.
Nadler later appeared to be confused when he tried to summon Rep. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) to speak but was quickly corrected by Republicans, who once again tried to explain why they removed their masks.
“No, no, he went and that is why I took off my mask, Mr. Chairman,” the congressman said.
Another congressman finally decided he was “going to go” after watching the entire conflict play out.
Nadler previously sparked an outcry in Congress after refusing to allow the House Judiciary Committee hearing to stand in recess.
Attorney General William Barr had asked for a five-minute break. Nadler was not interested, though he showed up to the hearing almost an hour late after being involved in a car accident on the way to the Capitol.
After several protests from both Barr and Jordan, the chairman finally yielded and granted the five-minute break.
“After this, if you still want we will have a break … you want it now? Fine,” Nadler said in a video shared on YouTube. “The committee will stand in recess now.”