As Pres. Trump battles COVID-19, Wisconsin Republicans battle mask mandate

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- As the president battles COVID-19, Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature are battling the governor's mask mandate.

Hours after the president revealed he tested positive for COVID-19, Wisconsin Republicans made the latest move in the fight over the state's mask mandate, filing court documents backing a lawsuit against Governor Evers.

As news of President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis spread, Wisconsin Republicans and Democrats sent support.

"I wish him and I wish Melania and everyone affected by this a full recovery," said Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee).

Speaker Robin Vos tweeted "Wishing @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS a full recovery."

But also on Friday, the Legislature, led by Republican Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, filed a brief in court in support of a lawsuit challenging Gov. Evers' executive order and the statewide mask mandate. 

It says the "governor's executive orders exceed the authority granted to him by the Legislature."

Democrats disagree with the brief and the timing.

"I think it is politically tone deaf, and appears they want to be the party of the pandemic," said Sen. Larson.

The original lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, says "It is not even about whether there can ever be a mask mandate." But instead, it's about the governor not having the power to do it.

Democrats maintain Republicans could easily overturn the governor's emergency orders by passing a joint resolution.

"It seems odd that they're that willing to avoid coming in to session to do their jobs, they'd rather spend taxpayer dollars for high-powered lawyers and try and do it this way," Larson said.

Meanwhile, in the filing, attorneys for Republicans wrote passing a resolution wouldn't work.

"Even if the Legislature were to convene days after the issuance of a renewed emergency declaration and vote it down, nothing would stop the governor from simply issuing yet another declaration."

We reached out to Speaker Vos and Sen. Fitzgerald's offices Friday afternoon for comment. We have not heard back.

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