Critics are calling on Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to roll back a rule requiring lawmakers to wear a face mask in light of new federal guidelines for vaccinated Americans.
For her part, however, the House speaker recently declared that using the “honor system” is an insufficient method of determining which members of Congress have been inoculated against COVID-19.
“Breathing in your face”
“What is this, the honor system?” Pelosi asked during a press briefing on Thursday, according to Breitbart. “The honor system, as to whether someone has been vaccinated? Do you want them breathing in your face on the strength of their honor?”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines earlier this month advising that it is safe for fully vaccinated individuals to forego face coverings in most public situations.
Pelosi has yet to alter existing chamber rules as a result.
Instead, she continues to force members of the House to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status. An estimated 75% of lawmakers have now been vaccinated and all elected officials have long had the opportunity to receive their shots.
House Republicans have applied increasing public pressure on the speaker to drop her mask requirements, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who drafted a resolution to repeal the existing mandate.
“Don’t even come to the floor”
While the measure would have replaced House rules with rules influenced by the current CDC guidelines, it failed along party lines with a vote of 218–210.
Pelosi has signaled that she would not change the rules until more members of the House received an inoculation. On Thursday, she insisted that unvaccinated members should vote from the House gallery instead of directly on the floor.
“I mean, we could come to a place where we could say, ‘If you don’t want to wear a mask and…you’re not vaccinated, then don’t even come to the floor,” she said. “We have facilities up above in the gallery where people can come to vote. We don’t want to deter anybody’s ability to exercise their constitutional duties.”
A handful of members — Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IO), Brian Mast (R-FL), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), and Ralph Norman — have been assessed $500 fines for violating the mask rule, as Fox News reports.