After the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Senate approved a measure to remove the state's mask mandate, the GOP-controlled state Assembly has delayed its vote on repealing it.
Lawmakers introduced a joint resolution last week, with more than two dozen Republicans signing onto the measure that would restrict Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency powers, including a declaration that mandated mask usage in indoor public spaces.
Evers issued the mask mandate last summer, shortly after Minnesota put a similar measure into place. He recently extended the mandate into March.
The resolution passed the Senate 18-13 earlier this week, and the state Assembly was set to vote on it on Thursday but decided to delay the vote out of fear the state could lose out on more than $49 million in federal aid, Channel 3000 says. Instead, Assembly members are working to ensure they won't lose aid if they pass the resolution.
This comes after lobbying groups including the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, Wisconsin Assisted Living and the Wisconsin EMS Association registered against the legislation.
In October, a study by Marquette University Law School showed a majority of Wisconsin residents were supportive of the mask mandate. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has encouraged the use of masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and President Joe Biden has issued an order requiring masks in federal buildings.
The resolution only needs to pass the Senate and Assembly to end the governor's public health emergency and the mask mandate – and it doesn't need Evers' signature to take effect because it's a joint resolution.
Since the start of the pandemic, Evers' actions to help control the spread of the novel coronavirus have been met with steep opposition from the Republican-controlled legislature.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the state has seen more than 535,000 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.