CLAIM: House Republicans are requiring Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, to remove the headwear he’s donned on the House floor while undergoing chemotherapy.
THE FACTS: Republicans have made no such request and have in fact been nothing but supportive, a spokesperson for Raskin told the AP. Raskin, who announced he’d been diagnosed with lymphoma last year, attended the year’s first House Oversight Committee hearing on Tuesday wearing a bandana. But as the new Republican House majority takes control, confusion over a joke Raskin made about House rules governing headgear fueled a false rumor on social media.
“Kevin McCarthy has insisted Jamie Raskin remove the headscarf he is wearing because chemotherapy has caused his hair to fall out,” wrote one Twitter user in a tweet with 34,000 likes, referring to the Republican House speaker. “You would think they would have compassion for a colleague with cancer but they are monsters.”
But Republicans have not imposed such a rule, and the false claim grew from a misunderstanding. In a Tuesday tweet, Punchbowl News reporter Heather Caygle wrote that Raskin had received a standing ovation in a House Democratic Caucus meeting after saying he’d push back on Republican efforts to make him remove his headwear.
“And I will make them take off their toupees,” Caygle quoted Raskin as saying. Jacob Wilson, a spokesperson for Raskin, told the AP in an email that Raskin “was responding lightheartedly to a hypothetical question from a colleague” at the caucus meeting.
According to Caygle’s tweet, he was asked “what he would do if Republicans made him take off his headwear on the House floor.” Caygle clarified in a follow-up tweet that Raskin said no House Republicans have spoken to him about hat rules. Caygle declined further comment when reached by email. Wilson said the Democrat “has received nothing but support and encouragement from all of his colleagues and leaders on both sides of the aisle.”
Mark Bednar, a spokesperson for McCarthy, said the House speaker had not told Raskin to remove his head covering. Hats were banned in the lower chamber in 1837.
— Associated Press writer Graph Massara in San Francisco contributed this report with additional reporting from Sophia Tulp in New York.