Nancy Pelosi is taking masking matters into her own hands.
According to Breitbart, the House speaker, a Democrat from California, is now moving to require members of Congress and their staffers to wear face masks while attending committee hearings in light of concerns over COVID-19.
Citing a report from The Hill, Breitbart alleged that a senior Democrat aide said Pelosi has instructed panel chairs to “enforce rules of decorum and exclude members who fail to comply” with mask requirements.
Making masks mandatory
According to The Hill, Pelosi’s latest push for members of Congress to wear masks emerged Monday, when reports indicated she was considering making face coverings mandatory at panel hearings in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 has killed some 116,000 Americans and infected more than 2 million more since the outbreak began, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), though all 50 states have begun reopening in the wake of the global health crisis, as The New York Times notes.
Part of that reopening effort has included requiring residents to wear masks in public places in states like Virginia and Maryland, as well as D.C. And it seems Pelosi is following that lead.
According to The Hill, Pelosi requested guidance from Brian Monahan, Congress’ attending physician, and he delivered on Tuesday with a memo that cited what The Hill referred to as a “broad consensus” about the effectiveness of wearing masks to contain the virus. Monahan recommended that masks be required for all individuals present “in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes.”
According to the senior Democratic aide who spoke with The Hill, “this requirement will be enforced by the Sergeant at Arms and non-compliant members will be denied entry” to committee rooms.
For those who don’t want to wear a mask, the staffer said “members always have the option to participate in committee proceedings virtually, including from their Washington, D.C., offices or their districts.”
In the name of safety
The new mask requirement is just the latest measure imposed by Pelosi in the name of safety. She has previously allowed for proxy votes, limited the number of members on the House floor at any one time, and even extended the time for a vote so members could vote in designated blocks, according to The Hill.
The House speaker has yet to require masks on the House floor, though Monahan strongly encouraged it, The Hill noted.
It remains to be seen whether Republicans, many of whom have resisted face coverings amid the pandemic, will comply with Pelosi’s latest order — and whether members of Congress will finally figure out how to wear them. Still, at least this gives Pelosi the chance to sport her new fashion-forward face wear. (Eye roll.)