Pelosi requires masks in the House chamber
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is requiring the wearing of face masks in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“Members and staff will be required to wear masks in the halls of the House,” Pelosi said. “The chair would also like to remind members that the speaker has the authority to direct the sergeant at arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of decorum.”
Pelosi said that masks will be provided to any members or staff who forget to bring their mask with them to the chamber.
“To reiterate, the chair views the failure to wear a mask as a serious breach of decorum.”
The decision came only hours after Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert (R) tested positive for COVID-19. Gohmert, one of the House’s most outspoken members, has not generally been wearing a mask on Capitol Hill. He was tested twice this week at the White House as he was due to travel with President Donald Trump to an event in Texas. Both tests came back positive.
The 66-year-old congressman says that he is asymptomatic for the most part but has been feeling a little more tired than usual. Fatigue is a common complaint amongst coronavirus patients with some not able to recover their energy for weeks after fighting the virus.
Gohmert said he might have contracted COVID-19 from wearing a mask.
“It is interesting, and I don’t know about everybody, but when I have a mask on, I’m moving it to make it comfortable, and I can’t help but wonder if that puts some germs in the mask,” Gohmert said.
The Trump administration has previously offered to provide rapid result tests to the Capitol for use on lawmakers but both chambers declined. Now, the topic is back on the table.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows reached out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday to offer more testing in the Capitol.
“Congress ought to start testing their members,” Meadows said. “We’d be glad to help with that.”
The Texas representative had just attended the House hearing with AG William Barr on Tuesday and his close proximity to other lawmakers has forced some to self-quarantine. The Attorney General was immediately tested for COVID-19 and came back negative.
Gohmert is not the first member to contract the virus. A growing list of lawmakers and other leaders in Washington have been coming down with COVID-19 in recent weeks including the president’s national security adviser.
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