Members of Congress received a bulletin from Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, which declared that face masks must be worn "at all times" on the House side of the Capitol complex. The new mask mandate states that everyone must wear face masks starting Thursday, even those who are fully vaccinated. The letter states that Capitol staff and visitors can be arrested for not wearing a mask.
The bulletin noted the decision for mandatory masks was based on the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance that recommends Americans wear masks indoors, even if they are fully vaccinated.
"The Office of Attending Physician (OAP) advised that Congress follow the CDC's guidance to require mask wearing in interior spaces to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection," the Capitol Police bulletin said. "Therefore, effective immediately, to promote the good health and well-being of our employees, all USCP personnel must wear a mask at all times when in interior spaces throughout the Capitol Grounds."
"In addition, masks are required for all individuals on site, and social distancing guidelines are to be followed," the letter to lawmakers stated.
Manger informed Congress members that the "Capitol Division shall enforce this mask policy on all staff and visitors" in the House side of the Capitol building.
"If a visitor or staff member fails to wear a mask after a request is made to do so, the visitor or staff shall be denied entry to the House Office Buildings or House-side of the U.S. Capitol," the bulletin said. "Any person who fails to either comply or leave the premises after being asked to do so would be subject to an arrest for Unlawful Entry."
The new Capitol rules declared, "If a staffer, who is accompanying a Member, refuses to wear a mask, that refusal should be noted and reported to a supervisor who will, in turn, refer the matter to the House Sergeant at Arms."
The memo noted that the mask mandate applies to Congress members, but "officers should not arrest any Member for failure to wear a mask or to comply with the mask mandate." Instead, any lawmaker who "fails to comply with a request to wear a mask should be reported to the House Sergeant at Arms' office."
Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) posted a copy of the memo with the caption: "In today's edition of Pelosi's abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals. For Members, they advise not arresting but 'reporting Members to SAA for their failure to comply.'"
Republican lawmakers were shocked and rankled by the mask order and took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the new mask mandate that applies to even the fully vaccinated.
- Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.): "I have no words. Actually, I do this is an extreme power grab."
- Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.): "To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren't wearing masks. This isn't about science—it's about power and control."
- Rep Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.): "This is insanity. Threatening arrest for not wearing a mask is unlawful and tyrannical!"
- Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.): "Here are the facts, @SpeakerPelosi: 85% of House Members are vaccinated. 70% of the Congressional workforce is vaccinated. Transmission rate on the Hill is .5%. Senate has no mask mandate. Pelosi's political theater is only aimed at distracting from her radical agenda."
- Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.): "Authoritarian @SpeakerPelosi strikes again."
- Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.): "You've lost your mind, @SpeakerPelosi. This isn't your House, it's the PEOPLE'S HOUSE."
- Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-N.M.): "By order of Nancy Pelosi, Democrats in Congress are using the hardworking men and women of the Capitol Police to enforce their dangerous and politicized mask mandates. Arresting staffers who believe in science is absurd."
- Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah): "Speaker Pelosi's draconian behavior isn't even based on credible science. This isn't about our well-being. This is about politics and power."
- Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.): "This is so out of control. Pelosi is massively drunk on power, obsessed with control, and hypocritical and partisan beyond belief. This isn't just some mask mandate either. The enforcement measures are absurd. *There are now just 27 COVID-19 patients in ALL DC hospitals."
- Rep. Fred Keller (R-Pa.): "Meanwhile, Pelosi is silent on the COVID-positive Texas Democrats who came to D.C. and infected others."
- Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Ala.): "This is a ridiculous abuse of power by Nancy Pelosi. It's the People's House, NOT Pelosi's House!"
- Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.): "In Biden-Pelosi's America the maskless are arrested while the looters, shoplifters, and border crossers go free."
- Oversight Committee Republicans: "Vaccinated, law abiding Americans: arrest them. Unvaccinated, illegal border crosses bringing COVID into America's interior: here's a plane ticket."
There were Republican representatives who flagrantly said they would not comply with the mask mandate in the Capitol Building.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who has been an outspoken critic of mask and vaccine mandates, dared Capitol Police to arrest his "entire staff."
"This is INSANE. Might as well come into my office and arrest my entire staff. We are not wearing masks," Massie tweeted. "I support the Capitol Hill Police, but the Chief of Police made a mistake here. The physician and the chief of police don't have this authority."
A defiant Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) also challenged Pelosi by proclaiming, "Nancy Pelosi has lost her damn mind, arresting staff and visitors for not wearing masks? This is the People's House, not her House. Let me make it easy for you, Speaker Pelosi, my office, and my visitors won't comply — have an issue with that? Come see me."
Rep. Barry Moore (R-Ala.) simply said, "Nope. #IWillNotComply."
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) posted a video on Twitter with the caption: "Madam Speaker, your insane power grab is showing. Today I'm not wearing a mask outside of the chamber b/c I follow science — not Pelosi. Come and get me."