Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) a “moron” for blasting the U.S. Capitol physician’s decision to reinstate a lapsed mask mandate in Congress “not based on science” — and Pelosi then defended the name-calling in a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
“Make no mistake—The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state,” McCarthy said Tuesday, in response to the decision to reinstate the mask mandate — and the attendant fines for legislators who refuse to comply.
Make no mistake—The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) July 28, 2021
The mandated returned at the direction of Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan, who changed the policy in light of revised Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mask-wearing guidelines, issued Tuesday, that suggest even individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks while indoors if they live in a “high risk” area.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky has tied the guidance-change to the Delta variant.
“We believe the vast majority of transmission is occurring in unvaccinated people and through unvaccinated people, but unlike the Alpha variant that we had back in May — where we didn’t believe that if you were vaccinated you could transmit further – this is different now, with the Delta variant, and we’re seeing now that it’s actually possible if you are a rare breakthrough infection that you can transmit further, which is the reason for the change,” said Walensky on Tuesday.
Pelosi refused to hold back when asked about McCarthy’s statement on Wednesday.
“He’s such a moron,” Pelosi said.
When her spokesperson was asked if Pelosi really called her House leadership counterpart a “moron,” her aide doubled down, Fox News noted, calling McCarthy’s statement “moronic.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t verify this audio because of poor quality, but I can confirm that the Speaker believes that saying a mask requirement is ‘not a decision based on science’ is moronic,” Drew Hammill, from Pelosi’s office Tweeted, per Fox.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi again defended name-calling her colleague.
“Science, science, science, and science,” Pelosi fired back at a reporter who asked her about the comment. “To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think is not wise, and that was my comment.”
Speaker Pelosi is asked about calling @GOPLeader McCarthy a “moron” for criticizing House mask mandate:
“Science, science, science, and science … To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think is not wise, and that was my comment."pic.twitter.com/Wr2b6RG7SK
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) July 28, 2021
She did, however, say in a separate interview that the Capitol mask mandate was not her idea.
“That’s the purview of the capitol physician,” Pelosi said, “a mandate from him. I have nothing to say about that except we honor it with our masks.”
McCarthy, for his part, waved off Pelosi’s insults.
“Well if she’s so bright, I’d like to know where the science changes in the Capitol, between the House and the Senate,” he said, noting that the Senate has not re-instituted the mask mandate.
“I never think it’s productive when I talk to her,” he added.
The CDC has faced significant blowback since issuing the revised guidelines on Tuesday, particularly from Republican legislators who object not just to the agency’s decision to recommend masks for vaccinated individuals, but for its recommendation that all individuals in a K-12 setting mask up regardless of vaccination status.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky defended the guidance by noting that, “in rare occasions, some vaccinated people infected with the delta variant after vaccination may be contagious and pass the virus to others,” necessitating masking.