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Pelosi keeps mask mandate on House floor while Republicans celebrate 'freedom'

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 5/14/2021 Emily Brooks
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Congressional Republicans are celebrating "freedom" guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks or socially distance, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will keep a full mask mandate within the House chamber.

When asked if she will lift the mandate in light of the new guidance, Pelosi told CNN, "No. ... Are they all vaccinated?"

On Thursday evening, the House's attending physician sent an email to Capitol staff with updated mask guidance saying that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks in most areas of the House side of the Capitol complex, but the mask requirement will not change in the Hall of the House "until all Members and floor staff are fully vaccinated."

Pelosi has admitted, though, that she does not know exactly who has gotten the shot. "It’s a matter of privacy who or who isn’t vaccinated,” she said at a press conference last month.

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According to a tally by CNN, all congressional Democrats are vaccinated, but nearly 45% of House Republicans have reported being vaccinated, though not all members shared the information. Some Republicans, such as Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, say that they have not gotten the vaccine because they have antibodies from previously having the coronavirus.

Republicans had a starkly different reaction to the CDC update.

Upon hearing the new mask guidance on Thursday, Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine reportedly took off their masks on the Senate floor and exclaimed, "Freedom!"

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took off his mask on Thursday and said, "Free at last."

"I think it's well past time that Congress leads from the front and showing what a return to normalcy should look like, that vaccinated members should no longer be wearing masks on the House floor," Michigan Republican Rep. Peter Meijer told the Washington Examiner.

Other Republican members had harsher words for Pelosi keeping the mandate. "It's not about science. It's all about power," Florida Rep. Brian Mast said in a tweet.

South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace said in a Fox News interview Friday morning that Pelosi looks "ridiculous" for keeping the mask mandate.

Asked why he was wearing a mask outside while heading to a vote, California Democratic Rep. Pete Aguilar said: "Because I'm going to walk in a building that requires it."

Some Republican members joked to reporters still wearing masks on Friday morning that they need to make sure the press has access to vaccines.

The House adopted a rule in January to fine members $500 for a first offense of not wearing a mask and $2,500 for a second offense. But that has not stopped some Republican members, such as Virginia Rep. Bob Good, from going maskless on the House floor.

Tags: News, Nancy Pelosi, House Republicans, House of Representatives, Congress, Mitch McConnell

Original Author: Emily Brooks

Original Location: Pelosi keeps mask mandate on House floor while Republicans celebrate 'freedom'

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