Sen. Thom Tillis’ hand-washing regimen came under national scrutiny after comments he made at a forum in Washington this week.
Tillis said requiring hand-washing in restaurants was an unnecessary government regulation at a Bipartisan Policy Center Q&A.
He said restaurants and shops, such as Starbucks, should be able to opt out of hand-washing requirements as long as they post signs saying they don’t require hand washing.
Market forces would take care of it, he said.
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“That’s the kind of mentality we need to have to reduce the regulatory burden on this country,” Tillis said.
Government agencies require hand-washing to prevent the spread of pathogens that can cause disease or illness.
Tillis’ comments spread across the political world Tuesday, and were often linked to an emerging debate about the necessity of childhood vaccinations and government’s role in requiring them.
Several outlets had fun with Tillis, and all sorts of responses popped up on social media, including a Tillis campaign ad where he spoke of once working as a short-order cook.
The left-leaning District Sentinel wrote: “He might have won the most expensive legislative campaign in US history, but that doesn’t mean he should manage your local Arby’s.”
The Washington Post wrote: “If Tillis’s career in politics doesn’t work out, may we politely suggest he pursue anything but food service.”
CNN said: “The invisible hand might control the free market – but it also might not be washed.”
In an interview with the Associated Press, Tillis defended his comments.
“Sometimes there are regulations that maybe we want to set a direction, but then let those who are regulated decide whether or not it makes sense,” he said. They might pay a huge price, he said, but “they get to make that decision versus government.”
Moderator Jason Grumet, president of the center, looked at Tillis and wrapped up the event with this: “I’m not sure if I’m going to shake your hand”
Then they did.