Many Republican members of the House of Representatives slammed the reinstatement of the mask mandate and the threat of arrest, asking how science applies when the Senate side is being exempt from the same rule.
“What’s interesting, we stand out here in front of the Capitol by the chambers of the House, but as you look across on the other steps is the Senate. I’m not quite sure where the CDC got, but somewhere in the middle of that dome, the science changes,” said McCarthy at a press conference in front of the Capitol.
“Capitol police officer you got orders that you work in some parts during the day on the House side and some parts on the Senate. If a vaccinated staffer comes across in the House side without a mask, you are ordered to arrest them, but not on the Senate,” added McCarthy.
Meanwhile, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) called the mandate a power grab and said she draws the line at wearing a mask in the halls of the Capitol, where there is ample space for social distancing.
“Madam Speaker, your insane power grab is showing. Today I’m not wearing a mask outside of the chamber because I follow science—not Pelosi. Come and get me,” Mace said in a social media post on Thursday.
The Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan informed congressional staffers in a letter Tuesday that masks were required in all House office buildings. Monahan, in his memo, warned that violators of the House’s mask mandate would be fined.
“For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an earloop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,” Monahan wrote.
“I had COVID, I’ve had two vaccinations, I’m washing my hands, I’m even wearing my mask inside the chamber, but I’m not going to wear it anywhere else. So, Madam Speaker, come and get me,” Mace said in a video posted to her Twitter account.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) meanwhile told reporters she is only following Monahan’s recommendations and will honor his expertise.
But McCarthy said Monahan’s recommendations were made from CDC guidance based on a report from India that has not been peer-reviewed.
“He did not know that the report is based upon India, about a vaccine that’s not approved in America, and now he did not know that it didn’t even pass peer-review,” the GOP leader said, referring to a CDC study published July 27.
The CDC report, in part, notes that “studies from India with vaccines not authorized for use in the United States have noted relatively high viral loads and larger cluster sizes associated with infections with Delta, regardless of vaccination status,” referring to the COVID-19 Delta variant. According to the CDC, the data suggests that “breakthrough Delta infections are transmissible.”
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) criticized the Democrats’ mask mandate in a speech on the House floor Thursday, as random and not following science, citing the constant change in mask and vaccine mandates.
“We have a crisis at our border, and we’re playing footsie with mask mandates in the People’s House,” said Roy.
“The Speaker comes down here at 10 o’clock in the morning saying we got to wear masks. We got to go around and see, okay, we can’t come to the floor, I can’t execute my Constitutional duty unless I wear a mask. Which is it? Vaccines or masks. Do the vaccines work or they don’t work? Do the masks work or they don’t work? I’d like to know which it is,” Roy continued.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) criticized the mask mandate as hypocritical when migrants are being let in, most without COVID testing.
“She wants us to talk about this ridiculous mask mandate. She wants to divide us, but we’re not going to be divided. We’re going to be focused on one thing, securing our southern border and helping the American people,” Gonzales said outside the Capitol. “And what do we have in El Paso, at Fort Bliss, you have Secretary Mayorkas hiding the fact that COVID is spreading in these detention centers—upward of 20 percent of migrants have COVID.”
However, Democrat Whip Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) urged people to follow Monahan’s recommendations as well as getting vaccinated so the pandemic is no longer a threat to public safety.
“Today’s announcement underscores the fact that we already have the tools needed to protect Americans against this deadly virus: safe and effective vaccines. We must double down in our collective efforts to get more Americans vaccinated—to protect themselves, their families, and their communities. I urge all Americans 12 years of age and older who remain unvaccinated to get their vaccinations immediately,” Clyburn said in a statement Tuesday.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.