Law & the Courts

Capitol Police Authorized to Arrest Visitors, Staff for Not Wearing Masks

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) speaks at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., July 28, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

U.S. Capitol Police were authorized to arrest visitors and staff as of Wednesday for refusal to wear masks, according to a memo obtained by Representative Kat Cammack (R., Fla.).

Visitors and staff should also be denied entry to the House side of the Capitol if they do not wear masks, the memo states. Members of Congress who refuse to wear masks “should be reported to the House Sergeant at Arms’s Office” but not arrested.

Republicans alleged that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) ordered the enforcement of the House mask mandate, although a Pelosi spokesman said the Speaker does not have the authority to do so.

“The speaker of the House does not control the U.S. Capitol Police,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill told Fox News. “We were unaware of the memo until it was reported in the press.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) noted that the mask mandate and enforcement orders do not apply to the Senate side of the Capitol.

“If you are a Capitol police officer you got orders … if a vaccinated staffer comes across in the House side without a mask you’re ordered to arrest them, but not on the Senate side,” McCarthy told Fox. “This is not the America we know.”

Capitol physician Brian Monahan instituted a mask mandate for the House side of the Capitol on Tuesday, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated Americans should wear masks indoors in areas with high coronavirus spread. A fully-vaccinated member of Pelosi’s staff tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month in a “breakthrough” infection.

A number of House Republicans were fined earlier this year after they refused to wear masks on the House floor, citing their vaccinated status.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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