Members of Congress were no longer be obliged to wear masks while attending the State of the Union. The decision reduces the likelihood of a deadlock with Republicans who have been vocal in their opposition to wearing masks. According to Brian Monahan’s memo, Congress’ physician, individuals will get to choose if they want to wear masks or not.
Attendees were obliged to cover their faces and nose with masks that were FDA-authorized, preferably N95 or KN95, according to a February 17 memo from the House sergeant at arms. The memo stated that anyone who refused to comply could be ejected from the event or fined.
The update on the rules was issued during a lengthy, and at times angry, the debate over House of Representatives rules forcing members to wear face masks in the chamber. The mandate implemented by Nancy Pelosi and that went into effect in July 2020 resulted in a furious attitude, a federal lawsuit, and a series of fines for politicians, per report.
A fine of $500 for the first violation and $2,500 for future offenses will be removed immediately from a member’s salary if they violate the House’s mask mandate. According to a CBS News assessment of the fines, Republican Representatives Andrew Clyde and Marjorie Taylor Greene have racked up at least $95,000 and $63,000 in penalties. It is believed that the number could be substantially higher.
There was a lot of discussion over the mandate. Only those who are at high risk should wear a mask, according to Maryland Republican Representative Andy Harris, an ex-physician. Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan said that it was illogical to have a rule requiring members of Congress to wear masks in the Senate while they are all mask-free at sporting and political events.
A number of House Republicans, led by Taylor Greene, filed a federal civil complaint against Speaker Pelosi, claiming that the monetary sanctions are unlawful. They claimed the fines were being used as a “cudgel” against House Democratic leaders’ “political opponents.”