House Ethics Committee Will Not Dismiss $500 Mask Fines Against Republican Congress Members

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
June 25, 2021 Updated: June 25, 2021

The House Ethics Committee confirmed Friday that it would require a handful of GOP lawmakers to pay the $500 fine issued to them in mid-May when they refused to comply with the House requirements of wearing a mask.

Reps. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas), and Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) were among the House Republicans who refused to wear a mask appealing to the Ethics committee to waive the fines, citing that they were complying with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance that said people can go without a mask if they are fully vaccinated.

Mast sent a letter to Chair of the House Ethics Committee Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) appealing a $500 fine Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued him for following the CDC guidelines instead of House rules for mask-wearing.

“I am appealing Speaker Pelosi’s $500 fine because I was in full compliance with the CDC guidelines and it is unlawful. The scientists at the CDC told us if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your life without wearing a mask or physically distancing. So, that’s what I’m doing,” Rep. Mast said. “It has never been about following the science for Speaker Pelosi. It has always been about power and control.”

The CDC guidance on mask-wearing as of May 13, states that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors, aside from certain circumstances.

The House lifted the mask requirement about a month after the CDC guidelines and after the Capitol physician concluded that it was safe to follow the CDC guidance because enough of the Capitol complex staff had been vaccinated.

At the start of the pandemic, Pelosi ruled that all members and aides must wear masks in the halls of the House and on the House Floor. While the Senate chose not to implement any mask requirements, the House’s mask rules became a point of contention between Democrat and Republican members.

On May 14, Miller-Meeks made an appeal to House leadership to follow the CDC’s example and stop requiring masks for House members.

“Yesterday, the CDC issued guidance that fully vaccinated individuals can resume indoor activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing. I am pleased to see the CDC following the science and recommending that fully vaccinated individuals can go without masks indoors,” she said from the House floor while not wearing a mask.

Speaker Pelosi’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on the fines being placed on the Republican congress members.

The House Ethics Panel said in a statement Friday, “A majority of the Committee did not agree to the appeal.”

Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq