GOP lawmaker challenges McCarthy over ‘bulls—‘ mask mandate enforcement

A Capitol Police guidance flier circulated Thursday morning by Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) states: “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 flier continues.

The guidance made clear that members who fail to comply with the mask mandate won’t be arrested, but would be “reported to the House Sergeant at Arms’ Office.”

Cammack tweeted the guidance and argued that it was an “abuse of power” by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Capitol Police to propose arresting staffers, even those who are vaccinated.

“The Speaker of the House does not control the U.S. Capitol Police,” Pelosi deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill said. “We were unaware of the [mask-related] memo until it was reported in the press.”

Freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) took it a step further, and offered to pay the bond of any staffer who is ultimately arrested for violating the mask guidance. The Capitol Police later walked back the guidance, writing in a statement that there is “no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested” and that anyone who does not follow the rule will be asked to “to wear a mask or leave the premises.”

The bulletin comes as Republicans are already hitting the Capitol physician for reimposing a mask mandate in the House when face coverings are not required across the building in the Senate. The mask requirement was put back in place as Covid cases rise in the Capitol, particularly in the House.

Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.