House GOP did not tell Raskin to remove head covering
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.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. Republicans have made no such request and have in fact been nothing but supportive, a spokesperson for Raskin told The Associated Press.
THE FACTS: 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 has fueled a false rumor on social media.
“If there was ever any doubt about how scummy House Republicans are, they want Rep. Jamie Raskin to remove the cap he’s been wearing while he undergoes chemo treatment for CANCER,” wrote one Twitter user, in a post that had been liked nearly 30,000 times by Wednesday.
“Kevin McCarthy has insisted Jamie Raskin remove the headscarf he is wearing because chemotherapy has caused his hair to fall out,” wrote another 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 that false claim appears to stem from a misunderstanding of a joke Raskin made earlier in the day.
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, though Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who wears a headscarf, successfully fought to loosen rules governing religious headdresses in 2018.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.