- The CDC announced Thursday vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks in most settings.
- Biden relaxed mask rules at the White House, but Pelosi said she’s keeping a mandate in the House.
- Republicans urged her to drop the rule and “show the country we can resume normal life through vaccination.”
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that she would continue requiring masks to be worn on the House floor, despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new guidance.
The CDC said earlier in the day that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in almost all settings, including indoors, marking a significant departure from previous guidance. The new recommendations also said vaccinated people no longer need to keep physically distant. However, people who are not fully vaccinated are advised to continue wearing masks.
When asked by CNN’s Manu Raju whether she would drop the House rule in light of the news, Pelosi gave a decisive “no,” asking, “are they all vaccinated?” A spokesperson for Pelosi confirmed to Bloomberg that the mask mandate would remain because it’s not known how many lawmakers and their staff are vaccinated.
Pelosi instituted a mask mandate in the chamber in July, after some Republican members refused to wear one. The Senate does not have a mask requirement.
More than 30 House Republicans, led by Rep. Bob Gibbs of Ohio, urged Pelosi in a letter to return to normal voting procedures in the chamber and to drop the mask requirement in response to the CDC update.
“The @CDCgov guidance today shows its time for Congress to practice what it preaches. There is no reason the House of Representatives should not be fully open and returned to normal operations. Enough with the Mask-erpiece Theater,” Gibbs said in a tweet.
The letter also said that every member of Congress had the chance to get vaccinated, and cited Pelosi’s statement late last month that 75% of House members have done so.
“The United States Congress must serve as a model to show the country we can resume normal life through vaccination. Let’s follow the science and get back to work,” it said.
Pelosi’s decision to keep the mandate also runs counter to President Joe Biden’s response.
Shortly after the CDC announced the new guidelines, a White House aide made an official announcement over a loudspeaker that “masks are optional if you’re vaccinated,” according to Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs, who described a “very happy mood” at the White House.
The president also celebrated the news with a straightforward message on Twitter: “After a year of hard work and so much sacrifice, the rule is now simple: get vaccinated or wear a mask until you do.”
Despite the CDC’s relaxed guidelines, private businesses and workplaces may continue to require customers or employees to wear masks.
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