Wearing masks will once again be compulsory in U.S. Congress due to the highly transmissible COVID-19 delta strain, the Capitol physician said.
Brian Monahan has ordered all House members to don face garments. The July 27 decision came hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reversed its previous guidance and recommended all to sport them indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
“For meetings in an enclosed U.S. House of Representatives controlled space masks are required,” he said in a memo obtained by The Hill.
Although Washington has not experienced an alarming jump in CCP Virus infections compared to the other jurisdictions, Monahan thought the precaution was not excessive for representatives who commute from high-risk areas.
“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,” he said according to the publication.
His amended policy came just 47 days after he let members and their staff go maskless on the House floor or in committee rooms, according to the New York Post.
Reports of breakthrough cases among some fully vaccinated Democrats, and two Washington officials had prompted several representatives to voluntarily return to covering their noses and mouths.
However, not every congressman has welcomed the memo. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) expressed concern the Democrats might be responsible for having to wear masks again.
“Make no mistake–the threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,” he said on Twitter.
Make no mistake—The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) July 28, 2021
The mask mandate will accompany 2020 legislation House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) championed to fine members who disobey the rule.
House members who do not wear masks on the House floor will be fined $500 for the first violation and $2,500 for the second. Six Republicans have already been told to fork out $500 for deliberately neglecting masks before Monahan last removed the requirement.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) revealed that he and fellow Republican Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Ralph Norman (S.C.) are suing Pelosi for imposing fines.
“Nancy Pelosi did this by edict, there is no law, she changed this rule on her own [and] she did it unconstitutionally,” Massie said according to the Courier-Journal.
The congressman believes the fines are a clear example of regulatory overreach and breach parts of the U.S. Constitution.
“In this case, Nancy Pelosi’s fine against us for not wearing a mask violates the 27th Amendment,” he said according to the paper.
He vows to contest the matter in the judicial system for his colleagues and the Constitution.
“We are here today not because of $500 in fines but because the American people need somebody to fight, and they are tired of people who will not fight,” he said. “We are going to fight and we have filed this case.”
BL understands the U.S. Senate is not subject to the latest mask mandate. Senate Republicans are understood to be less concerned about the constitutionality of having to wear facial garments.