Politics & Policy

House Republicans to Force Vote to Lift Mask Mandate for Vaccinated Members

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) arrives for a House vote at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., May 11, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) and the House GOP Doctors Caucus are set to introduce a resolution to bring the House mask policy in line with the CDC’s latest guidance for vaccinated people.

The privileged resolution will force a vote on shifting the policy so it follows guidance issued by the CDC last Thursday, which said that vaccinated individuals do not need to wear their masks in most indoor settings, according to Fox News.

It directs the House attending physician to update the “mask wearing guidance” for the House of Representatives and committee rooms “for Members and staff who are vaccinated against Covid-19” so that the policies reflect the agency’s guidelines.

The lawmakers pointed to the CDC’s advice, the “three widely-available vaccines against COVID-19” and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s comments that vaccinated people are at low risk of spreading the disease as reasons for the resolution.

They argued that the House mask mandate as it stands sends an “erroneous message” to Americans that the vaccines don’t work and said it “is not based on the best available science.”

The mandate also affects “the ability of the House to properly and effectively conduct” business on behalf of the American people, they add.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) last week said she would not update the House rules in light of the new CDC guidance and questioned whether every member had been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Pelosi told reporters in late April that 75 percent of House members are vaccinated, according to a letter from more than 30 House Republicans to the speaker last week. The letter urged Pelosi to return to normal voting procedures in the chamber and to lift the mask requirement.

“The @CDCgov guidance today shows its time for Congress to practice what it preaches. There is no reason the House of Representatives should not be fully open and returned to normal operations. Enough with the Mask-erpiece Theater,” Representative Bob Gibbs (R., Ohio), who led the group, said in a tweet.

The report comes one day after eight Republican lawmakers staged a rebellion on the House floor by not wearing their masks. The group included Representatives Brian Mast (Fl.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Beth Van Duyne (Texas), Greg Steube (Fl.) and Chip Roy (Texas).

Currently, members who refuse to wear a mask may be subject to a $500 fine for the first offense and $2500 for the second.

Meanwhile, there is no mask rule in the Senate chamber.

Mast, who has said he is fully vaccinated, reportedly received a $500 fine on Tuesday for not wearing a mask, according to Fox News.

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