U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) were instructed to arrest maskless staff and visitors on the House side – regardless of vaccination status, according to a police memo.
The memo, issued by USCP Chief Thomas Manger, reads in part: “If a visitor or staff member fails to wear a mask after a request is made to do so, the visitor or staff shall be denied entry to House office buildings or the House side of the Capitol.”
“Any person who fails to either comply or leave the premises after being asked to do so would be subject to an arrest for Unlawful Entry,” the memo continued.
It stipulated that a member of Congress who refuses to mask up will be not be arrested but rather “reported to the House Sergeant at Arms’ Office.”
Republican Rep. Kat Cammack posted a screenshot of the memo, which she said was given to her by an unnamed police officer. Cammack claimed police have told her they are “very uncomfortable” with the order.
Cammack blamed the strict enforcement on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, writing, “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.”
“This is such an overstep of Speaker Pelosi’s authority to basically make our Capitol Police arrest staff members and report on members [of Congress],” Cammack said. “It’s absolutely unconscionable that this is where we’re at.”
“Cammack, like many other GOP reps, are up in arms about the return this week of coronavirus mask mandates at the House, regardless of vaccination status. The mask rules follow updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance in the wake of the rise of the contagious COVID delta variant and lower-than-expected vaccination rates,” according to Fox News.
House Minority Whip Republican Steve Scalise echoed Cammack’s sentiment, tweeting, “To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren’t wearing masks. This isn’t about science—it’s about power and control.”
House Minority Leader Republican Kevin McCarthy noted the strict enforcement exists only on the side of the Capitol under Pelosi’s leadership. “Somewhere in the middle of that dome, the science changes,” McCarthy said during a press briefing on the Capitol steps.
“This is not Pelosi’s house,” he added. “This is the people’s House.”
Dozens of House Republicans and their staffers protested the new mask mandate by marching maskless out of the House to the Senate floor in protest of the new mask mandate for the lower chamber.
Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn told said in a Thursday statement that the Republicans who left the House chamber to protest the mask mandate “took a firm stance on individual liberty.”
“Along with the majority of Americans, we rejected the totalitarian, hypocritical, and arbitrary ruling from Speaker Pelosi demanding masks be worn in the House,” Cawthorn said. “My staff should never fear arrest because they practice individual responsibility.”
The North Carolina congressman’s communications director, Micah Bock, added that he was stopped by a Capitol Police officer and prevented from entering the Cannon House Office Building for not wearing a mask.
Bock said he was advised by the officer that he had to “wear a mask to go through security” and that what he did after he went through was his “own concern.”
Republican Rep. Jim Banks, meanwhile, suggested the strict mask enforcement will not stop at the House. Washington, D.C. announced it will restart its indoor mask mandate on Saturday to reflect federal guidelines.
Author: Gregory Prowden