After House Speaker Nancy Pelosy unilaterally decided that House members should be required to wear masks, despite the proclamation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated Americans can generally jettison their masks indoors, 34 GOP members of the House sent Pelosi a letter protesting the decision, with one of them referring to her decision as “cowering in fear in defiance of common sense” and calling it “Mask-erpiece Theater.”
Pelosi told CNN that she would not permit the House’s mask mandate to be lifted, adding, “Are they all vaccinated?”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi told me “no” she isn’t changing the rule requiring masks on the House floor.
“No,” Pelosi said. “Are they all vaccinated?”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) May 13, 2021
The 34 Republicans sent a letter to Pelosi that stated:
In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance released on May 13, 2021 we urge you to immediately return to normal voting procedures and end mandatory mask requirements in the House of Representatives.
CDC guidance states fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting except where required by governmental or workplace mandate. It is time to update our own workplace regulations. Every member of Congress has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, and you have indicated about 75 percent have taken advantage of this opportunity.
The United States Congress must serve as a model to show the country we can resume normal life through vaccination. Let’s follow the science and get back to work.
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH), who headed the group sending the letter, issued a statement saying:
For all the talk from President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and the mainstream media telling us to follow the science, political leaders should be setting an example for getting back to normal, not cowering in fear in defiance of common sense. Based on sound science, the CDC says those who are vaccinated have an incredibly low risk of becoming infected with coronavirus. With that data, there is no reason the House of Representatives should not be fully open and returned to normal operations. It’s time to end the House’s mask mandate and staggered voting.
The House of Representatives is filled with enough political drama. The last thing we should be doing is contributing to vaccine hesitancy with the same Mask-erpiece Theater Congress engaged in during Biden’s address to the joint session. I and my colleagues are calling on Speaker Pelosi to reverse these restrictions and allow the People’s House to resume regular operations.
“It’s about control,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) echoed. “She wants to control the House.”
“Some Republicans have said they aren’t getting vaccinated because they’ve had covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and now have antibodies. Others, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Madison Cawthorne (R-N.C) have publicly declined to take a vaccine,” The Washington Post noted.
Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician to Congress, acknowledged fully-vaccinated people can go without a mask in other areas of the House, according to the Post.