ernst celebrating maskless
See GOP senators celebrate maskless after CDC guidance
02:07 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

A privileged resolution filed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy seeking to change the current mask guidance in the House of Representatives and allow members to be maskless on the House floor was blocked by Democrats on Wednesday evening.

Democrats successfully halted the resolution when it came to the floor, although the vote was close with a final tally of 218-210. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to the floor to add her vote to the tally.

The resolution from the California Republican came after a handful of GOP lawmakers purposefully evaded the chamber’s mask mandate, which requires all members to wear a mask on the House floor unless they are giving a speech. A mix of fines and warnings were handed to members for their defiance of the rules on Tuesday.

Mask-wearing in the halls of Congress have become a growing flashpoint among members since attending physician for the House of Representatives Brian P. Monahan informed members last week that masks still had to be worn on the House floor, the same day the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention alerted that individuals who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors or outdoors except under certain circumstances. Members also still have to wear masks for committee meetings.

According to a copy of the resolution provided to CNN, McCarthy, along with a handful of cosponsors, called on the attending physician to update the mask wearing guidance to be “consistent with the public guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention” for lawmakers and staff who are vaccinated.

McCarthy’s resolution claims that the current mask mandate “sends the erroneous message that the efficacy of the vaccines cannot be trusted,” is “not based on the best available science” and “hinders the ability of the House to properly and effectively conduct the people’s business.”

Pelosi informed members that this guidance would not change “until all Members and Floor staff are fully vaccinated,” in a letter sent to lawmakers last week.

“The resolution is factually inaccurate in a number of ways” Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said in a statement reacting to McCarthy’s resolution to CNN. “CDC guidance specifically says that workplaces may have different standards and OAP has conferred with CDC, as recently as yesterday, on his guidance. The mask mandate has not inhibited House business.”

According to a recent CNN survey, 100% of congressional Democrats and 92% of Senate Republicans had been vaccinated against Covid-19, while only 44.8% of House Republicans were.

A growing chorus of Republicans has pushed back on the guidance since it was released starting with 34 House GOP members penning a letter to Pelosi last week asking her to lift the mask guidance in light of the updated CDC recommendations.

Reps. Brian Mast of Florida, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa and Beth Van Duyne of Texas all received $500 fines for their second offenses of ignoring the mask mandate on the House floor on Tuesday, a Capitol official told CNN. Additional offenses of the mandate would result in $2,500 fines.

Mast explained why he chose to defy House rules in a statement after receiving his fine.

“The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists. The scientists at the CDC are telling us if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your life without wearing a mask or physically distancing. So, that’s what I’m doing” Mast said. “The question people should be asking is why is Speaker Pelosi not? For her, this has never been about science, it’s always been about power and control over the American people.”

Mast, who did not respond to CNN’s survey sent to all members asking if they were vaccinated, disclosed in the same statement that he was vaccinated.

Additional Republican lawmakers received first offense warnings on Tuesday, the official told CNN, including Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas, Bob Good of Virginia, Mary Miller of Illinois and Louie Gohmert of Texas.

In addition to keeping the mask requirement on the House floor, Pelosi has also extended the period in the House that allows for members to vote via proxy to July 3, as the current proxy voting period had been set to expire Wednesday.

After members were reprimanded for violating House floor mask wearing rules on Tuesday, Pelosi took to the floor to remind members of the mask-wearing rules.

“The chair wishes to remind all members about certain standards of decorum in the hall of the House,” Pelosi said, as she rehashed the mask-wearing guidelines. “That includes proper attire, behavior that is respectful to other members and our staff and adherence to mask requirements and other safety protocols intended to protect all of those present in the Hall of the House.”

This story and headline have been updated to include additional developments Wednesday.

CNN’s Kristin Wilson contributed to this report.