The Slatest

Pelosi Makes Masks Mandatory on House Floor

Nancy Pelosi puts on a mask in front of a U.S. House of Representatives sign.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi puts on a mask on Capitol Hill on May 21. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a tightening of mask-wearing rules in the Capitol building and will now require face coverings for representatives and their staff on the House floor. The only exception will be when members are recognized to speak. The move came after Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas tested positive for COVID-19 at the White House Wednesday. Gohmert has been a vocal opponent of face covering requirements and has been seen repeatedly around the Capitol building without a mask, including in and around Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr. “I’m so sorry for him. But I’m also sorry my members are concerned because he has been showing up at meetings without a mask and making a thing of it,” Pelosi said of Gohmert contracting the virus. “Hopefully now he will look after his health, and others.”

“Pelosi is considering other measures to more strictly enforce the wearing of masks across the Capitol complex, according to a Democratic official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a private discussion,” the Washington Post reports. “Masks are already required in committee hearings, where lawmakers sit physically distanced and must have a mask on unless it is their turn to speak.”

Pelosi began requiring masks in committee hearings in June, as some Republicans balked at the abridgement of their personal liberties for even a moment to protect the lives of their colleagues. The mask deniers—dubbed the “no-mask caucus”—includes Gohmert and a couple dozen other Trumpy representatives. Their rationale for refusing to wear a mask is usually absurd. “Can you smell through that mask?” Louisiana Rep. Clay Higgins sarcastically asked a CNN reporter in May when discussing mask wearing. “Then you’re not stopping any sort of a virus. It’s part of the dehumanization of the children of God. You’re participating in it by wearing a mask.” Might want to stay away from Clay Higgins for a while.