House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday dismissed the Republican minority leader’s criticism of Congressional new mask requirement, a policy reversal that reflected a growing number of cases and fears over the Delta Covid variant. 19 highly transmissible on Capitol Hill.
“He’s an idiot,” Pelosi said of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy after he tweeted that the mandatory mask policy was not based on science, but on a political decision by Democrats. (The consensus among public health officials and scientists is that masks significantly reduce Covid-19 transmission, especially indoors.)
Pelosi’s unusually abrupt comment came as the Capitol’s treating physician reimposed the mask requirement for the House of Representatives. At least two House lawmakers and a fully vaccinated Pelosi aide tested positive for the coronavirus, while the Senate government affairs and national security committee postponed a hearing after some of its members were partially exposed.
The House had abandoned its month-long mask policy six weeks ago in a display of its optimism that the United States had largely defeated the pandemic, shortly before Joe Biden declared America’s supposed independence from Covid-19. .
The number of Covid-19 cases has also skyrocketed across the country, with the seven-day moving average of new infections reaching 40,246 on Wednesday, about four times the level from just three weeks ago, driven in large part by the lack of vaccines and the Delta variant.
Capitol physician Dr. Brian Monahan said in a memo to House of Representatives legislators and congressional aides that he was re-enforcing the mask policy under new CDC guidance and the unique nature of the Capitol. , where thousands of people from all over the country congregate each week.
“Everyone should wear a well-fitting medical grade filtration mask (eg, a surgical earmuff mask or KN95 mask) when indoors,” Monahan said. “For meetings in an enclosed space controlled by the US House of Representatives, masks are REQUIRED.”
The top congressional physician separately gave the same advice to the Senate, but stopped short of pushing for a mask mandate. The Senate is much smaller than the House of Representatives, and most senators voluntarily adopted masks during the pandemic.
But like the measures Joe Biden is considering to increase vaccination rates in the US, the reintroduction of the mask requirement in the House has inflamed Republicans, who have seized on such policies as an alleged egregious overreaching of government power by Democrats.
House Minority Leader McCarthy reacted angrily to Pelosi’s comment Tuesday, again questioning the basis of the mask’s mandate: “If she’s so brilliant, can you explain to me where the science changes in the building between the House and Senate? “He said. .
House rules say that any member who refuses to wear masks on the floor of the House chamber and in specific areas of the Capitol can be fined $ 500 for the first offense and $ 2,500 for the second, and fines paid directly from their wages.
Monahan’s memo says members will not be required to wear masks when alone in the Capitol complex, or when recognized for speaking on the Chamber floor. .
Still, several Republicans have already vowed to defy the mask requirement, with Congresswoman Lauren Boebert causing consternation when she entered the House floor without a mask and threw one at a staff member when offered a replacement, CNN reported. .
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism