Members of the US House of Representatives trying to get into a committee meeting had better have a face mask on—or they'll now be turned away by the on-duty sergeant-at-arms. That's according to a new order issued Tuesday by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a senior Democratic aide tells the Hill. "Non-compliant Members will be denied entry," the aide notes, citing newly updated guidance from Congress' attending physician that states the requirement will be invoked if a committee hearing is taking place "in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes." To enforce this new mandate, Pelosi is relying on House rules that give committee chairs the power to "punish breaches of order and decorum" by barring maskless members, who'll be offered a face covering before they enter.
The apparent reason behind this move: a handful of House Republicans who've been resistant to covering their faces, per the Washington Post, which notes nine states have had recent record highs of COVID-19 cases. Notable holdouts include Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Ted Yoho of Florida—who has said he believes in still-unproven (in terms of the coronavirus) "herd immunity" to keep him and others safe—and Louisiana's Clay Higgins, who says wearing a face mask is part of the "dehumanization of the children of God." One resistant congressman, Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, announced this week that he and his family now have the coronavirus. The Democratic aide notes to the Hill that House members who don't want to adhere to the mask mandate can always call in remotely to committee meetings from their offices or districts. (Read more Nancy Pelosi stories.)