Democrat State Sen. Joe Bolkcom took to the floor of the Iowa Senate to lecture Republicans about the importance of requiring masks in the Iowa Capitol. At one point, he even blamed Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver and Senate President Jake Chapman for the fact “more people are going to die” after Freedom Rally 2.0, which was held at the Capitol on Monday.
Bolkcom started his speech by pointing out that when last year’s legislative session was suspended, there were only 23 COVID-19 cases in the state of Iowa.
“Well, what’s changed since then,” he said. “Over the past eight months, Iowa’s response to the pandemic has been led by Gov. Reynolds. She has been a 4-star disaster.”
Iowa, Bolkcom said, ranks 14th worst in the nation per capita when it comes to COVID.
“Her haphazard approach, including mystery metrics and ignoring recommendations from the White House Coronavirus Task Force has resulted in a meltdown of Iowa’s economy and forced the disruption of education for thousands of Iowa school children,” Bolkcom said. “She signed no-bid contracts, misappropriated federal funds, gave contracts to political donors, played a starring role in a promotional video for a private company she awarded a no-bid contract and made it virtually impossible to track the day-to-day COVID-19 numbers.”
Reynolds’ administration is continuing to “lack transparency” when it comes to answering questions about “all things” related to the pandemic.
“Gov. Reynolds spent most of the month of October on the campaign trail for the most corrupt, treasonous President in the history of our country,” Bolkcom said. “Her maskless, MAGA vacation led to a massive spike in COVID cases, over-running our hospitals and disrespecting our healthcare and public healthcare professionals.”
Bolkcom called her reluctance to issue a mask mandate her “biggest failure.” He called it one of the “simplest, most effective, low-cost ways to actually safely open businesses and our schools and prevent death.”
“Now, 4,222 Iowans are dead and that number continues to grow,” he said. “My heart goes out to those families and those people who have suffered the most.
Bolkcom said much of the suffering and death was preventable. He then blamed the Republican-controlled legislature for going on its own vacation and giving all authority to Reynolds.
“Who didn’t know what she was doing and wouldn’t listen to the advice of experts,” he said. “So, here we are, back in session. A session that should’ve been delayed until we have more Iowans vaccinated. A session now that provides a chance for a super spreader event every single day.
“Sen. Whitver, you’re making the Tyson managers look like they had their act together. Monday’s super spreader gathering on the first floor of the rotunda with hundreds shoulder to shoulder without masks was appalling and reckless.”
At that point, Sen. Brad Zaun called for a point of order. Bolkcom made one more snarky comment before Sen. Chapman called him to the Well.
“I’m not coming to the Well,” Bolkcom said. “You can tell me what you need to tell me from here.”
Chapman again called Bolkcom to the Well. Bolkcom again refused and this time crossed his arms.
“You don’t wear a mask. I’m not coming to the Well,” he said. “I’m not coming to the Well. I don’t want to come to the well. You can just tell Iowans what you’re going to tell me, Senator.”
Chapman announced Bolkcom needed to avoid implying improper motives to other members of the Senate.
“I don’t give up my First Amendment rights when I’m on the floor of the Senate,” he said. “We’re going to have more points as this session goes on. Tyson did a crappy job managing their plants, and that’s what is going on here.”
Bolkcom circled back to Freedom Rally 2.0.
“Are you trying to kill us and the people that come to this Capitol,” he asked. “Seriously.”
The current proclamation issued by Reynolds prohibits an event like Freedom Rally 2.0, Bolkcom said.
“Yet Sen. Whitver and Sen. Chapman allowed it to go on,” he said. “More people are going to die. Just in the last two weeks, Iowa has reported 22,000 new Coronavirus cases and nearly 500 new deaths. Yet you act like COVID-19 is no big deal. We need to masks to be worn in this Capitol where it is impossible to socially distance. Your lame reasoning about not being able to require legislators to wear masks is a joke. It’s a joke. I’m mandated to wear this tie and this jacket to be able to stand at this mic and speak.
“You all know that masks work. You’re lying President politicized masks. It’s time for you to snap out of it, show some guts and protect Iowans.”
Bolkcom also called for the people who work in the Capitol to be required to disclose when they have a positive COVID-19 test.
“We have a long, long road ahead,” Bolkcom said. “The virus is as deadly today as it was on March 16, 2020, and a new strain 70 percent more contagious is probably already here. Eighty-two Iowans were reported dead yesterday. Iowans are suffering right now in ICUs on ventilators.
“I do agree with what the Governor said last night — let’s be better. Let’s be better. For the sake of our families, our neighbors, our friends and business owners, their workers, educators and our students, our healthcare workers and our public health professionals, our Governor and you all gotta do better.”