House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced a new rule that lawmakers and staff will be required to wear a mask while in the hall of the lower chamber, warning that anyone who refuses to do so could be booted out by the Sergeant at Arms.
What are the details?
Speaking from the chair on Wednesday, Pelosi declared that starting Thursday, “Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times in the Hall of the House except that members may remove their masks temporarily when recognized,” CSPAN reported.
Pelosi said she “expects all members and staff to adhere to this requirement as a sign of respect to the health, safety, and wellbeing of others present” before adding:
The chair would also like to remind members that the Speaker has the authority to direct the Sergeants At Arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of decorum. To reiterate, the chair views the failure to wear a mask as a serious breach of decorum.
Politico posted text of the new rule online, which showed the mandate is open-ended, and “will remain in effect until a determination is made that such a requirement is no longer necessary.”
The speaker’s decision came the same day Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) revealed he tested positive for COVID-19. The Republican told KETK-TV following his diagnosis that he has gotten a lot of heat for not wearing a mask in the past, but he has increased his mask-wearing in recent weeks.
He told the outlet, “I can’t help but wonder if my keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, that if I might have put some germs or some of the virus onto the mask and breathed in it…I don’t know.” Gohmert says he has not experienced any symptoms of the disease.
Gohmert said his views on facial coverings is, “If somebody feels strongly about everybody should wear a mask, then they shouldn’t be around people that don’t wear masks.”
The Hill noted that Pelosi implement a mask requirement for committee meetings a month ago, “shortly after another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Tom Rice (S.C.) — who was spotted without a mask on the House floor — tested positive for the coronavirus.”
Masks have become a partisan issue since the committee mask requirement was put in place, adding further tension in an already-divided House of Representatives.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) has scolded GOP members of his committee numerous times, even threatening to not recognize members who were not wearing masks–leading to battles with ranking member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio).