GOP lawmaker booted from Illinois House session for refusing to wear mask

House lawmakers in Illinois voted this week by a wide margin to remove a Republican colleague who flatly refused to wear a face mask during a legislative session.

State Rep. Darren Bailey was kicked out of Wednesday’s legislative session after refusing to comply with new rules adopted earlier in the day requiring members, staffers and visitors at the Bank of Springfield Center to wear face coverings if they’re medically able, the Chicago Tribune reports.

“I will not,” Bailey, a farmer who represents rural Xenia in southern Illinois, said when asked to comply.

That led Democratic Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch to make a motion for Bailey’s removal, which passed by an 81-27 margin, the newspaper reports.

Bailey, who has sued Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker over his stay-at-home order, later defended his actions as taking a stand against big government.

“This whole thing that it’s concern for other people?” Bailey told the Washington Post. “I don’t buy that at all.”

The new rule is “not about health,” Bailey insisted, but is rather “just another Democrat bullying tactic,” Bailey told the newspaper.

Bailey said he would wear a mask if he was worried about his health, but that’s not the case. The GOP lawmaker isn’t sure if he plans to wear a face covering during legislative sessions moving forward, he said.

“I don’t know,” Bailey said Wednesday. “That’s something where I’ll have to decide whether I go back tomorrow and wear a mask or not.”

Pritzker, meanwhile, did not hold back when asked about Bailey’s removal, accusing him of unnecessarily putting lives at risk, the Tribune reports.

“The representative has shown a callous disregard for life, callous disregard for people’s health,” Pritzker said during his daily briefing. “You just [heard] a doctor tell you why people wear masks in the first place. It’s to protect others. So clearly, the representative has no interest in protecting others.”

In April, a judge granted Bailey a temporary restraining order that makes him exempt from Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday, the Washington Post reports.