As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new masking guidelines for vaccinated people, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) signaled on Thursday that she wouldn’t be lifting a House masking requirement where vaccinations have not been completed.
Republicans who have long defiantly challenged mask requirements quickly lashed out at the updated guidelines issued Thursday night by Congress’s attending physician Brian Monahan.
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) suggested that Pelosi was seeking “control” in the decision after the CDC said that Americans who have been vaccinated can safely unmask indoors.
“She wants to control the House,” Scalise said of the House Speaker during a Fox News interview on Thursday night.
Pelosi has cited a group of unvaccinated House members as part of the decision to keep mask rules in place on the House floor.
When asked on Thursday, if the requirement to wear masks would be lifted, Pelosi said: “No. Are they all vaccinated?”
Last month, she noted that about a quarter of lawmakers had yet to receive a vaccine against COVID-19, while acknowledging: “We cannot require someone to be vaccinated.”
Some Republicans have resisted vaccination because they already had COVID-19, although the CDC has still recommended shots for those who previously tested positive for the virus. Others, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) have publicly said they won’t get vaccinated.
Updated guidelines issued Thursday say that the mask mandate will continue on the House floor “until all Members and floor staff are fully vaccinated.” His update also notes that per the CDC, “recovery from natural infection is not equivalent to completion of a vaccination.”
Attending physician for Congress, Brian Monahan, added that fully vaccinated staffers and lawmakers can gather mask-free in other House office spaces.