The GOP-controlled Wisconsin General Assembly voted Thursday to repeal Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' emergency order and statewide mask mandate, but the achievement did not last long.
Within an hour, Evers signed a new emergency order along with a decree requiring masks — and Republicans are threatening to overturn those, too.
What are the details?
The repeal of Evers' mask mandate passed 52-42 in the General Assembly after passing 18-13 in the Senate, with a resolution the governor cannot veto.
The Hill reported that Wisconsin state House Speaker Robin Vos (R) and state Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) issued a joint statement following the vote, saying that Evers "has abused his limited authority for far too long by repeatedly issuing unlawful orders beyond his 60-day emergency powers. The Assembly and Senate voted to end the executive overreach and restore our constituents' voice in the legislative process."
Vos said ahead of the vote that Republicans are not anti-mask, but cannot allow the governor to exert "unlawful powers that he does not have," such as requiring masks in private businesses.
In announcing his new decree less than an hour following the repeal of his first dictates, Evers argued, "If the Legislature keeps playing politics and we don't keep wearing masks, we're going to see more preventable deaths, and it's going to take even longer to get our state and our economy back on track."
Now, Republicans are threatening to repeal Evers' latest mandate and emergency order, which he issued citing "more contagious strains of the [COVID-19] virus" including "the B.1.17 variant, which has been found in Wisconsin and 31 other states."
State Sen. Steve Nass (R) issued a statement saying, "Tony Evers is now an openly lawless governor clearly in violation of his oath of office and his duty to comply with the rule of law."
Nass vowed, "I will be immediately drafting another Senate joint resolution to end the Evers Emergency Declaration issued on February 4, 2021. I will also be calling on Senate leadership to consider filing for an emergency action in the Wisconsin Supreme Court."
The Associated Press reported that "Evers and the Legislature have been at odds throughout the pandemic but the latest moves created an unprecedented level of whiplash." The outlet went on to note that "Republican lawmakers last year persuaded the state Supreme Court to scrap Evers' stay-at-home order and a state appeals court halted the limits he placed on indoor gatherings."