Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, who was one of the four GOP members of Congress fined $500 for failing to wear a mask on the House floor in protest of the congressional mandate, argued on “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “wants to fine the science, not follow the science.”
“This is an issue that’s very important to me,” Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, said, noting that she had been vaccinated.
“I’ve been doing vaccine clinics and administering vaccines in my 24 counties in my district and I saw the vaccination numbers going down, and I felt that clear guidance from the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] that if you were vaccinated you could go without your mask would help more people be incentivized to get vaccinated,” Miller-Meeks, who is a physician, added.
She noted that last month she’d spoken on the House floor, advocating to lift the mask mandate “so that we could be the leaders we are elected to be, and we could be a show of normalcy and what would happen if you got vaccinated as a motivation for people to get vaccinated.”
“I had already done several speeches on the floor about this issue,” she continued. “And then when the CDC released the mask mandate for indoors, that’s when I did another speech on the floor and said I’m not going to remove my mask,” she stressed.
GOP Representatives Brian Mast of Florida, Beth Van Duyne of Texas and Ralph Norman of South Carolina were also issued a $500 fine apiece. Future violations could reach $2,500. Seven other fellow Republican members of Congress were issued warnings.
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., authored a resolution the House complies with CDC guidelines and allows members to be unmasked on the floor and in committee hearings. The GOP-backed effort says the House “mask mandate sends the erroneous messages that the efficacy of the vaccines cannot be trusted.”
Pelosi and Capitol Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan have stood by the House floor mask mandate as being entirely consistent with CDC guidelines and “endorsed by an expert CDC panel,” Monahan wrote in a statement Wednesday. The House chamber mask requirement will remain unchanged “until all Members and floor staff are fully vaccinated,” he said.
Pelosi said previously that she estimates about 75% of House members are fully vaccinated, and that there could be lessening of the restrictions if more GOP reps got the shots.
“If Minority Leader McCarthy wants to be maskless on the Floor of the House of Representatives, he should get to work vaccinating his Members,” Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said Wednesday.
Miller-Meeks, Mast and Van Duyne said they are fully vaccinated and were just following the new updated CDC guidance that no longer advises mask-wearing for those who have completed the coronavirus shots. The CDC made exceptions for requirements by federal and state laws and guidelines set out by employers and businesses.
While the White House followed by lifting its mask requirement, the House did not. Pelosi has relaxed mask guidance so that members could remove their face covering when they were recognized to speak on the floor.
Meanwhile, there is no mask rule in the Senate chamber, which Miller-Meeks pointed out on “America’s Newsroom” on Thursday.
Speaking on “Fox & Friends” on Thursday, Norman, R-S.C., said he will continue to not wear a mask on the House floor even though he was fined.
“We are tired of it,” he said. “So much for bipartisan.”
He also noted that representatives are only required to wear masks in “the well where we vote where the cameras are,” but “outside, nobody wears it,” calling it a “double standard.”
“If it’s good outside the chambers to take it [a mask] off, why can’t we take it off inside?” Norman said, adding that “it’s time to stop this lunacy.”
When asked by a reporter last week if she would update the House rules given the new CDC guidance, Pelosi gave a resounding “no” and questioned whether every member had been vaccinated.
Like Miller-Meeks, Norman encouraged Pelosi to follow the science, arguing that she is now ignoring “the science just to punish us — and I doubt any Democrat would be fined.”
Fox News’ Marisa Schultz, Chad Pergram, Kelly Phares and Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.