Pejoratives aside, I don’t think it’s moronic to ask why a heavily vaccinated group of adults needs to mask up to protect a small minority in its midst that’s eagerly assumed the risk of infection. The only members of the House who are still unvaccinated at this point are Republicans; their reasons vary from “I’ve had COVID already” to ideological rebellion against an expert consensus but every one of them knows what they’re doing by not taking precautions.
So why is a mandate needed? Why not let members mask up according to their personal degree of risk-aversion?
If you’re a vaccinated member of Congress with an immunocompromised family member at home, then get yourself an N95 to hedge against the risk of catching the virus and infecting them. If not, what do you care if you end up inadvertently infecting Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert on the House floor?
They bought the ticket. Let ’em take the ride.
When asked by @frankthorp about @GOPLeader’s criticism of the mask mandate being reinstated in the House, @SpeakerPelosi responds as she’s getting in her SUV: “He’s such a moron.” pic.twitter.com/2WUwE3A9wR
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) July 28, 2021
The “moron” comment was a response to this tweet from last night:
Make no mistake—The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) July 28, 2021
The new memo from the House physician in the wake of the latest CDC guidance mandated masks in interior House spaces. Refusing to wear a mask in the House chamber will earn you a $500 fine but that’s a price some Republicans are willing to pay to fight this culture-war battle:
I saw at least 24 House Republicans not wearing a mask on the House floor today so far. New guidance went out last night requiring all members to wear masks again and there’s a lot of frustration over it. Members caught not wearing masks are subject to fines.
— Annie Grayer (@AnnieGrayerCNN) July 28, 2021
A witness told me they saw GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert throw a mask back at a floor staffer when she was offered one while trying to walk onto the floor maskless. Members can now be fined in the House when maskless
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 28, 2021
One would think that “interior House spaces” also includes an indoor room where the Speaker addresses the press, no?
Pelosi brings back “hygiene theater” to the House.
She walked up to podium with mask on, then took it off to talk for 20 minutes at her weekly press conference. pic.twitter.com/X36zVJxesM
— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) July 28, 2021
McCarthy noticed a quirk in the physician’s new mandate: It applies to the House but not to the Senate, where masks are merely recommended. How does that make sense?
A) From the pool. McCarthy on Pelosi calling him a "moron" for rejecting the call to wear masks: "If she's so brilliant, can she tell me where the science in the building changes between the House and the Senate?"
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 28, 2021
C) McCarthy: :"Can she explain to me the less than 1% affected there. So it’s a lot of questions if she knows so much science explain to me where the science changes in the Rotunda."
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) July 28, 2021
I think there’s a reasonable explanation to answer his second question, about why masks would be needed when D.C. isn’t a hot spot. He’s right that it isn’t: Nearly 55 percent of the population has been vaccinated, the city’s positivity rate is below three percent, and deaths from COVID are on the order of zero or one per day. But thousands of tourists from around the country pass through the Capitol every day and House members are constantly shuttling back and forth between Washington and their home districts, some of which are seeing surging cases. It’s not crazy to worry about Congress being a virus hub. In fact, two members, Clay Higgins and Vern Buchanan, have announced they were infected within the past 10 days.
But McCarthy’s first question is harder to answer. Why would there be a different masking standard for the Senate than for the House? The explanation given by media outlets is that the Senate has a much higher vaccination rate than the House does, with all but four senators having received their shots. But … the whole point of yesterday’s CDC announcement is that immunization is no longer a bar to transmission. Vaccinated senators can infect others just like unvaccinated House members can. So if the latter are required to wear masks to reduce that risk, why shouldn’t the former?
Although that’s less a winning argument for McCarthy than for Chuck Schumer, right? If the Senate is just as infectious as the House, that’s a reason why senators should be masking, not why House members shouldn’t.
But it’s also not a warrant for mandates. Let everyone mask as needed to protect themselves or, if they’re feeling altruistic, to protect those around them. If the House physician wants to do something productive, he should be angling to get a supply of N95s for Congress. There’s no point in wearing a cheap cloth mask if you’re looking to prevent transmission of a variant that produces a thousand times the viral load of the original virus.
Below you’ll find two clips of Pelosi prattling on about science during today’s presser. Dems should start asking themselves whether the effectiveness of new restrictions justifies their political cost, because there is a political cost. Trump may have overperformed with black and Latino voters last fall because they resented how prolonged lockdowns were damaging their businesses. “The party of mindless precautions” is a bad look for the left, particularly after the CDC told vaccinated people to get back to normal in May. The more Pelosi does her vacuous because-science-says-so shtick, the more of a backlash she’s risking.
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 28, 2021
Reporter: “Is [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy a moron, and if so why?”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called McCarthy a moron this morning: “To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think, is not wise.” pic.twitter.com/jHBLc5cDG7
— The Recount (@therecount) July 28, 2021