CORONAVIRUS

House Members To Be Fined For Not Wearing Face Masks

They will also have to go through metal detectors to get onto the House floor, amid concerns some may be carrying guns.

The House is set to adopt a rule Tuesday night fining lawmakers hundreds of dollars if they refuse to wear a face mask on the floor.

They will face a $500 fine the first time they break the rule, and $2,500 the second time. The money will be deducted from their pay.

A House Democratic aide who shared the plans said the measure will be part of a procedural vote when the chamber reconvenes Tuesday night to consider the resolution calling on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment declaring the president unfit to serve.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) put in place a mask mandate for the House floor in June, but it hasn’t carried any monetary penalty until this point.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) speaks at a news conference, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021.

Three Democratic lawmakers have tested positive for COVID-19 after being locked down with GOP colleagues who refused to wear masks during the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol. Those Democrats have blamed Republicans for spreading the virus, though it remains unclear if that is actually how they contracted it.

When a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters overtook the building, officials rushed a number of lawmakers, reporters and staffers into a protected, undisclosed location.

More than 100 people were in the room together for as long as several hours, a source who was there told HuffPost. At least nine Republican House members were not wearing masks for extended periods of time, according to the source as well as video of the lawmakers.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), who announced her positive diagnosis Tuesday, blasted the “selfish idiocy” of her maskless colleagues and called for “serious fines... on every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”

In another change to the House floor after the Jan. 6 events, everyone ― including members themselves ― will have to go through metal detectors before entering the chamber.

“Magnetometers are being placed at selected entrances to the Chamber,” acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett wrote in a memo to lawmakers and their staff Tuesday. “Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber. Members are reminded that pursuant to the firearms regulations that Members received on opening day, firearms are restricted to a Member’s Office.”

The decision to force members to go through metal detectors before they enter the floor is a change of some historical importance. Since the beginning of Congress, lawmakers have been exempt from the same security protocols that govern the general public. 

But with some members vowing to wear guns around the District of Columbia — which is against the law — the House is taking this unprecedented step. 

Democratic members on a security briefing call Monday expressed concern about allowing lawmakers to enter the House floor, or attend next week’s inauguration, without going through a magnetometer. The House swiftly took action Tuesday, posting metal detectors in front of a number of entrances to the floor.