Pelosi drops mask mandate after months of pushback from GOP

House Republicans just scored a huge win over Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her outdated efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to The Hill, the House speaker has finally dropped her long-standing mandate requiring lawmakers to wear masks on the House floor.

The news comes just days after the Capitol’s attending physician released new guidance indicating that members of Congress who are fully vaccinated can forgo face coverings, but weeks after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the same, as The Hill notes.

Masks off

The Capitol physician’s latest guidance, published Friday, also said lawmakers who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 — either via two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson shot — no longer need to practice social distancing “in most situations.”

The mask mandate will remain, The Hill said, for lawmakers “who aren’t fully vaccinated” or who are “vaccine-indeterminate.”

The latest data cited by The Hill indicated nearly 320 of the lower chamber’s 430 current voting members, including all House Democrats, have said they’ve been vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Pelosi caves

The mask mandate in the House was first put in place by Pelosi in July 2020, and it quickly garnered pushback from Republicans, at least half a dozen of whom have faced fines for flouting the rule in the months since.

Notably, the decision by Democrat leaders in the lower chamber to end the mask requirement doesn’t have any impact on the Senate, which never instituted any masking or social distancing requirements, according to the Associated Press.

According to The Hill, the Capitol physician had said when the CDC first relaxed its own guidance for fully vaccinated individuals last month that it would recommend maintaining a mandate on masks on the House floor since it’s “the only location where the entire Membership gathers periodically throughout the day in an interior space.”

Freedom prevails

To explain its sudden change of heart, the Capitol physician’s office said its latest guidance comes “in response to considerable rate of vaccination participation and diminishing daily evidence of disease transmission in our community.”

That’s one possibility. Another possibility is that it is all politics. Either way, though, House Republicans like Florida Rep. Brian Mast are celebrating.

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