Congressional Democrats appear to be eschewing the Biden administration’s guidance on indoor mask usage for the vaccinated, blocking a Republican push Wednesday for a resolution aimed at removing the requirement on the House floor.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and members of the House GOP Doctors Caucus led the effort, with proponents arguing that mandatory masks for vaccinated individuals on the floor are unnecessary, citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recent guidance lifting restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated.
The failed resolution — Democrats tabled the push for a vote — called on Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan to ““take timely action to provide updated mask-wearing guidance.”
The move came in the wake of Monahan releasing updated guidance clarifying that lawmakers would still have to wear their masks on the House floor and in committee meeting spaces just a week after guidance was provided stating vaccinated individuals did not need to wear their masks in other parts of the Capitol campus.
Republicans have railed against the extended restrictions in recent days, with a group of GOP lawmakers opting to protest on the House floor, going without masks despite receiving $500 fines.
McCarthy accused Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of keeping the restrictions in place for political gain.
“Think for one moment, OK — why did the doctor send the Senate one letter and send us a different one? Why do House members, even if they were managers and they go for impeachment, they have to wear their masks there but you take it off on the Senate side?” he told reporters ahead of the vote.
“What is the difference in science, what is the difference? I think it’s just greater control that Pelosi wants and so we should have a vote just based upon science but they’ll table it I’m sure.”
A spokesman for Pelosi slammed the resolution as a publicity stunt, arguing that the current rules for the floor are in step with the CDC’s recommendations and ensures members remain safe.
“Minority Leader McCarthy’s resolution is a sad stunt to distract from the reality: that the House Republicans are descending into pure chaos,” spokesman Drew Hammill said.
“This resolution has zero basis in science or reality. The Office of the Attending Physician has consistently conferred with the CDC, as recently as yesterday, as it has issued guidance. As updated OAP guidance released today states, ‘The mask requirement for the Hall of the House is entirely consistent with Centers for Disease Control prevailing mask guidance as reviewed and endorsed by an expert CDC panel.’”