House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is reportedly vowing to keep the chamber’s mask mandate in place until there’s proof all lawmakers are vaccinated — scoffing at an ''honor system'' and stoking a GOP mask revolt.
Pelosi said she may eventually force reluctant GOP lawmakers to vote in a separate location from the House floor, the Washington Examiner reported Thursday.
''The honor system, as to whether somebody is vaccinated?'' she asked incredulously after a question about whether she’ll keep the mask mandate indefinitely if some don’t get the COVID-19 vaccine.
''Do you want them breathing in your face, on the strength of their honor?''
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., led an effort Wednesday to get the Office of the Attending Physician to update its guidance for mask wearing for vaccinated lawmakers and staff while they are in the House chamber and in committee hearing rooms, but Democrats defeated it along a party-line vote of 218-210.
Lawmakers can remove their mask when speaking on the House floor, but otherwise must keep it on when they are in the chamber. There is no requirement for wearing masks in the Senate chamber.
The CDC announced that those who are fully vaccinated can shed their masks, indoors and outdoors, though masks should still be worn in crowded indoor locations.
But Pelosi has maintained the mandate in the House chamber and in committees, blaming unvaccinated Republicans. All House Democrat lawmakers are vaccinated.
''We have a responsibility to make sure that the House of Representatives chamber is not a petri dish for the cause of the selfishness of some, not to be vaccinated, or to insist'' on not wearing a mask, Pelosi said Thursday, the Washington Examiner reported.
Pelosi said Democrats ''could come to a place'' where those who are unvaccinated and won’t wear a mask would be banned from the floor and forced to cast their vote in a vestibule in the viewing gallery on the third floor, the news outlet reported.
Brian Monahan, the attending physician for Congress, described the number of unvaccinated lawmakers as ''substantial,'' although it is fewer than 25% of all members.
''We could come to a place where we say if you don't want to wear a mask and … you're not vaccinated, don't even come to the floor,'' Pelosi said, the Washington Examiner reported.
''We have … up above, in the gallery, where people can come to vote. We don’t want to deter anybody's ability to exercise their constitutional duties. We have that responsibility as well. We're trying to balance everybody being able to exercise his or her constitutional duties as well as protect the staff and the other members.''
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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