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'Law and order' Republicans explode as Capitol Police enforce COVID safety rules

GOP lawmakers are upset over re-instituted mask requirements meant to curb the spread of coronavirus variants.

By Josh Israel - July 29, 2021
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Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY)
Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questions former Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, during the second public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents.

House Republicans vehemently criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of tyranny on Thursday after Capitol Police officials announced they would begin enforcing COVID-19 safety rules once again.

“In today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals,” Florida Rep. Kat Cammack tweeted.

“To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren’t wearing masks,” added House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. “This isn’t about science—it’s about power and control.”

Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik claimed in a separate tweet that Pelosi was an “authoritarian” for reissuing the mask directive, while Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs called it “insanity.”

“Threatening arrest for not wearing a mask is unlawful and tyrannical!” he wrote.

Other Republican lawmakers dared the House speaker to punish them for not complying.

“Nancy Pelosi has lost her damn mind, arresting staff and visitors for not wearing masks? This is the People’s House, not her House,” tweeted Florida Rep. Byron Donalds. “Let me make it easy for you, Speaker Pelosi, my office, and my visitors won’t comply — have an issue with that? Come see me.”

The barrage of complaints came after the Capitol Police issued a memo citing the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance urging vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in public indoor settings to curb the spread of delta coronavirus variant, and a decision by Congress’ attending physician to require mask use in the federal building.

The CDC made its determination based on new evidence that some fully vaccinated people may still contract and spread the delta variant.

House rules, adopted by the majority of its members in accordance with the Constitution, already require face mask use in the chamber. That rule had been eased prior to the latest public health data for vaccinated members, but was tightened against after two GOP lawmakers announced they had contracted COVID-19 in the past two weeks (one had been fully vaccinated, the other had previously had the disease).

The Capitol Police memo stated that any “visitor or staff member” found not wearing a mask would be “denied entry to the House.” If an unmasked individual continued trying to circumvent the rule, it read, they could be “subject to an arrest.”

Many of the Republicans lashing out on Thursday have made efforts in the past to frame themselves as defenders of “law and order.”

In a July 1 tweet, Stefanik branded herself “the North Country’s Law & Order Candidate.”

And in February, Biggs claimed only Republicans could be considered “the party of the Constitution, law and order, freedom, and smaller government.

On Wednesday, Republicans spent more than an hour of House time making repeated failed motions to adjourn the work day, in protest of the mask requirements. During a floor speech, Texas Rep. Chip Roy suggested that the “institution is a sham and we should adjourn and shut this place down” over the reintroduced safety measures.

On Thursday, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said that she had directed staff to work from home over the requirements,  tweeting, “No one should be arrested over a mask. We should follow the science not Speaker Pelosi.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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