In spite of relaxed mask wearing guidelines from the CDC, Nancy Pelosi has refused to allow any change in mask wearing policy for the House of Representatives. Leading Republican Kevin McCarthy is attempting to pressure Pelosi into removing the requirement for members to wear masks in the House chamber. Pelosi for now is continuing to fine members who do not wear masks in accordance with the current rules.
Pelosi refuses mask rule change
Minority Leader McCarthy introduced a House resolution which pointed to the new CDC guidelines and would allow members to not wear masks on the floor.
The resolution was narrowly defeated in a 218-210 vote which largely followed party lines. House Democrats accused the resolution of being a political stunt from House Republicans.
One May 18, the day before the vote, a number of Republican members staged a protest against the mask wearing rules.
The group of GOP legislators did not wear masks on the floor, earning $500 fines for themselves from Pelosi or warnings of future fines for those who had not already received a previous warning for disobeying mask rules.
Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky reportedly organized the protest, which included nine other members, all of them Republican.
The connection between the protest and the resolution from McCarthy is unclear, though both claimed as their motive the new CDC guidelines.
Republicans point to new CDC guidelines
The CDC currently claims that mask wearing in most situations is unnecessary for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. These guidelines apply to most indoor as well as outdoor spaces.
Congressional Republicans have repeatedly expressed frustration with CDC guidelines, which have been accused of being inconsistent and unclear at times.
For Democrats in the House the issue is vaccine taking. Pelosi has stated that a quarter of the House has not yet taken the vaccines in spite of their being available to all members for several months.
Pelosi and other Democrats say that as long as vaccination is not universal in the House the mask rules will not change for members in the chamber.
The Republicans who staged the protest emphasized the new CDC guidelines for vaccinated individuals, arguing that the rules still being enforced by Pelosi have no grounding at this point in science. The vaccination status of these Republican protesters is unknown.
Regarding the $500 fine he received during the anti-mask protest Representative Brian Mast of Florida said “best $500 I ever spent”