Normally any Pelosi move that’s made chiefly at the expense of the GOP can be assumed to have a political motive, but I don’t know about this one. Given the average age of members of Congress, having an unmasked infected person wandering around a committee hearing room is a genuine health hazard with potentially fatal consequences.
It’s not hypothetical either. Republican Tom Rice of South Carolina had declined to wear a mask while inside the House chamber, telling reporters at the end of last month that he assumed he was safe so long as he kept six feet away from others. He announced a few days ago that he has COVID-19. An outbreak inside Congress could bring the national legislature to its knees.
The impetus for Pelosi’s order was new guidance issued last night by Congress’s attending physician requiring that masks be worn by anyone “in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes.” Masks aren’t required on the House floor (yet) or in other areas of the Capitol since those spaces are larger, but committee rooms are smallish. Pelosi put some teeth into the new rule: