Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and the House Republican doctors are attempting to make the chamber follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance for wearing masks.
McCarthy and the House GOP Doctors Caucus are introducing a privileged resolution to force a vote on changing the House mask policy to reflect the CDC’s newest guidance that said it was OK for vaccinated Americans to ditch their masks indoors in most settings.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., last week said she would not update the House rules to match the new CDC guidelines, and added lawmakers could resume normal life more quickly if more of House Republicans got vaccinated.
The McCarthy-led resolution directs the House attending physician to update the mask-wearing policy currently covering the chamber and committee rooms “for Members and staff who are vaccinated against COVID-19” so that they are in line with the CDC’s new guidance.
McCarthy and the Republican doctors pointed to “three widely-available vaccines against COVID-19” and National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci’s statement that vaccinated people are at low risk of spreading the disease.
On Tuesday, about a dozen Republicans refused to wear masks during the House evening vote series and strategically stood at the well of the chamber, which appears on the C-SPAN cameras, Politico reported.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., posted a selfie on Twitter with three of her mask-free colleagues and the hashtag “#Freeyourface.”
“Masks are oppressive and nothing but a political tool,” Greene tweeted. “End the oppression!”
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., told GOP conference colleagues earlier in the day he was “done” wearing masks and will refuse to wear them on the House floor going forward, even if it means being fined, multiple sources told Politico.
The Republican resolution slammed the House’s mask mandate as sending an “erroneous message” to Americans. It leads people to think the COVID-19 vaccines don’t work and said it “is not based on the best available science.”
The resolution added the House policy affects “the ability of the House to properly and effectively conduct” business.
A privileged resolution falls under privileged business, which is described as “business that has precedence over the regular order of business,” according to the Congressional Research Service.
Privileged business interrupts other legislation or business before the House and brings a measure up for a floor vote.
Specific kinds of legislation, such as changing the House rules or general appropriations bills, are considered privileged business, and the House normally brings up bills for vote by unanimous consent or by privileged motion.
The CDC on Thursday announced that fully vaccinated Americans no longer needed to wear masks indoors or physically distance themselves from others, though the agency did advise vaccinated people to continue to wear masks in crowded indoor settings.
Pelosi last week relaxed mask guidance rules to allow members recognized to speak on the floor to remove their face covering.
The House currently requires masks be worn in the chamber except when speaking during debate, though members can go without masks in House office buildings and elsewhere in the Capitol complex. Lawmakers who fail to observe the rule are subject to $500 fines for a first offense and $2,500 for a second, Politico said.
It was reported Friday that every Congressional Democrat had been vaccinated against COVID-19, and at least 44.8% of GOP House have been vaccinated, according to CNN.
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