Clay Higgins

U.S. Rep Clay Higgins, R-Lafayette

BATON ROUGE, La. - Republican Congressman Clay Higgins, of Lafayette, won’t be attending the Washington Mardi Gras ball put on by Louisiana’s congressional delegation because COVID screening will be required of attendees.

“I oppose all such oppressive mandates, and I am stunned that the Mystick Krewe has apparently determined that free Americans are unable to be trusted with their own medical decisions,” Higgins wrote his colleagues on Monday.

The Mystick Krewe of Louisianians host the Jan. 27-29 event at the Washington Hilton Hotel. The ball that caps Washington Mardi Gras is on Jan. 29.

Now in its 73rd year, Washington Mardi Gras was begun by congressional staffers displaced from home during Carnival season. It has since grown to include heavy hitters in Washington, a few presidents have attended, along with Louisiana companies seeking economic development for the state. Usually, 2,000 to 3,000 people attend.

Last year’s event was cancelled because of the COVID pandemic.

Higgins says those attending the 2022 Washington Mardi Gras will have to show vaccination status for entry.

“Not only do I oppose medical mandates in principle, but I have also taken action in Congress, having months ago introduced legislation that would criminalize these acts,” Higgins wrote.

Neither U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, the Baton Rouge Republican chairing the event this year, nor House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson and longest serving member of the Louisiana delegation, immediately replied to request for comment.