You may not know Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley at all, but if you do know the name, it’s probably because his grandfather Chuck Grassley is the only current U.S. Senator to have held office since the freshman class of Senators following the Revolutionary War. Since that war Grassley the Wizened has chosen primarily to wage war on poor people, while Grassley the Younger has picked his own battle: mask mandates (of course). And though Pat has adopted the position that he simply cannot impose a mask mandate on the House floor without enlisting the aid of law enforcement, he was fully able to curtail a woman lawmaker’s to attempt to commit the serious offense of speaking whilst wearing trousers made from the wrong style of cotton.
Unlike masks, clothing is actually regulated in Iowa legislative buildings, as Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell demonstrated when she attempted to challenge Grassley’s assertion that he, as House Speaker, is powerless to control whether or not his colleagues spray potentially deadly viruses into one another’s faces.
And though Wessel-Kroeschell was not allowed to speak, she was allowed to vote, which sort of aligns with Grassley’s previous statements that he could not stop the House from voting in their bathing suits if the mood struck so he certainly could not stop them voting with their snouts out, a sentiment he more or less seemed to stick to in a statement responding to the Wessel-Droeshell denim uprising:
“There is no way to enforce a mask mandate short of having state patrol remove a duly-elected representative from the floor, which is not something he is willing to do, for masks or for jeans,” a representative said in the statement. “Rep. Wessel-Kroeschell was in violation of House rules and it is within the speaker of the House’s discretion to handle such violations as he sees fit.”
It does seem as though he could simply try these same tactics out on the anti-maskers in a state where 321,000 people have contracted covid, yet Republicans have recently voted down Democrats’ proposal to lead by example and wear a fucking mask while in session. For her part, Wessel-Kroeschell says she put more thought into her jean selection than Grassley did into his entire argument: “They’re brand new, they’re clean, they don’t have any holes in them. They’re not hurting anybody,” she told the Des Moines Register. That makes perfect sense, a sure sign that an argument is going to get you nowhere with a Grassley.