House Speaker Nancy Pelosi mandated Wednesday that all representatives and staff members must wear masks while on the House floor.
“Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times in the hall of the House except that members may remove their masks temporarily when recognized,” Pelosi said on the House floor.
She further stated that refraining from wearing a mask will be considered a “serious breach of decorum.”
“The speaker has the authority to direct the sergeant-at-arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of decorum,” Pelosi added.
“The chair expects all members and staff to adhere to the requirement as a sign of respect for the health, safety and well-being of others present in the chamber,” she said.
The California Democrat made the announcement hours after Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Republican, 66, said in a video statement on Twitter that despite the positive diagnosis, he had no symptoms.
“The reports of my demise are a great deal premature” he said.
Gohmert stated he was tested twice prior to entering the White House, and both tests were positive.
“I don’t have any of the symptoms that are listed as part of COVID-19, but apparently I have the Wuhan virus,” he said.
“Rand Paul was just texting me that the good news is that in 10 days or so, I should be fairly well immune,” he added.
My statement about today’s diagnosis: pic.twitter.com/qvf7zIcgdN
— Louie Gohmert (@replouiegohmert) July 29, 2020
Gohmert later speculated that a mask he had been wearing recently might have given him the coronavirus.
“I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some germs — some of the virus — onto the mask and breathed it in,” Gohmert said during an interview with KETK-TV.
On whether he was feeling symptoms, Gohmert told KETK-TV he felt only “disgust” a day before during Tuesday’s judiciary hearing in which Attorney General William Barr appeared before members of the House.
Gohmert said he will quarantine at home until he tests negative, and that he will wear a mask while he is sick and around others.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked if he is in favor of requiring masks while on the Senate floor.
McConnell said senators and others in the upper house were wearing masks without a mandate, Newsweek reported.
“It appears not to be necessary since everybody seems to be doing it,” McConnell said.
The Republican from Kentucky noted the Senate has “had good luck without a requirement” for facial coverings.
“I believe just about every one of my members is wearing a mask, and we have since the first of May when we resumed,” he added.
“I think we’ve been following the guidelines of the Capitol physician — properly socially distanced, wearing a mask, which I’ve had on till I stepped up to the microphone to talk to you.”
Sen. Rand Paul tested positive for the coronavirus in March.
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