Democrats call for maskless Congress members to pay fine following positive tests
New rules are set to be adopted after three lawmakers contracted COVID-19 from someone not wearing a mask.
New rules are set to be adopted in the House of Representatives after three lawmakers contracted coronavirus following being sheltered with Republican colleagues who refused to wear masks during last week’s insurrection at the Capitol.
Congress members may be assessed with a $500 fine for a first-time offense of not wearing a mask on the House floor, then $2,500 for a second offense.
Democratic Reps. Bonnie Watson Coleman, Pramila Jayapal and Brad Schneider have all tested positive for COVID-19. All had received the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine in the days prior, but the vaccine is only 52-percent effective after one shot.
Reporting from The Hill notes the positive coronavirus test results only account for those in the House voluntarily disclosing their test results and that there might be others who may have tested positive, just not made their diagnoses public.
Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan and Rep. Anthony Brown of Maryland introduced a bill early Tuesday that would implement a $1,000 fine on any lawmaker not wearing a mask on the grounds of the Capitol.
Several Republicans were captured on video declining a mask when one was offered by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester inside the secure room where they were taken during the Jan. 6 siege.
Masks have been required on the House floor since July, but enforcement of the rule had been lax.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to tighten the rule again in December, to little avail among some Republicans.
About the newly-installed metal detectors at the doors to the floor, a letter from the acting House sergeant at arms reminded all members “Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the chamber.”
“Additionally,” Timothy Blodgett wrote, “members are reminded that they are required to wear masks when entering and while in the chamber. Members not wearing a mask will not be admitted to the floor and members who fail to wear a mask will be removed from the floor.”
The new mask measure is already enraging some Republicans actively pushing back against rules created to ensure their safety.