House members will have to walk through metal detectors before they enter the House chamber, the acting Sergeant at Arms for the House of Representatives announced Tuesday, in an order that highlighted a mask rule on the floor as well.
Members will not be allowed to enter the chamber without a mask, acting Sergeant at Arms Timothy P. Blodgett said, and will be removed from the floor for not wearing one.
Additionally, a procedural measure that the House will be voting on Tuesday evening related to the impeachment push will also impose new fines for those who refuse to wear masks on the floor.
The dual measures come after the Wednesday siege of the Capitol, which has raised serious questions about the safety of the lawmakers in the coming weeks.
In addition to the threat of violence lawmakers faced when the rioters breached the halls of Congress, multiple Democrats have tested positive for COVID-19 — an outbreak they think is related to the refusal by some House Republicans to wear masks while they were in lockdown with their fellow representatives, staff and reporters.
The new fine scheme expected to be adopted Tuesday night will resemble the one that House Republicans imposed in 2017 to punish members who take video and photos on the House floor, according to a senior House Democratic aide. Those fines were in a reaction to how some Democrats live-broadcasted from their cell phones demonstrations Democrats held on the floor that year to protest the lack of action on gun control.
House members will face a $500 fine the first time they are found to be in violation of the mask requirement, and a $2,500 fine awaits them for a second offense. The penalty will be docked from member pay, according to the Dem aide, so that campaign funds cannot be used to pay it off.
While House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the mask requirement many months ago, some House Republicans have been reluctant to comply with it. Several Republican members also refused when a Democrat provided them masks to wear during Wednesday’s lockdown, according to video obtained by PunchBowl News.
The addition of metal detectors will also change the way the House side of the Capitol operates for members. Members of the public and media go through metal detectors when they enter the Capitol complex, but lawmakers are allowed to bypass those.