Capitol Police Ordered to Arrest Maskless Staff, Visitors at House of Representatives

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A U.S. Capitol Police officer enforces a renewed mask mandate outside a hearing room of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of House Committee on Oversight and Reform at Rayburn House Office Building July 29, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Capitol Police have been ordered to arrest staff or visitors who refuse to comply with the second incarnation of the masking order.
A U.S. Capitol Police officer enforces a renewed mask mandate outside a hearing room of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of House Committee on Oversight and Reform at Rayburn House Office Building July 29, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Capitol Police have been ordered to arrest staff or visitors who refuse to comply with the second incarnation of the masking order. (Image: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The United States Capitol Police (USCP) force that oversees the U.S. Capitol Building has been ordered to arrest visitors and staff members who go maskless on the House of Representatives’ side of the premises. The arrest order does not apply to members of Congress.

Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) broke the news on Twitter on July 29 where she stated, “In today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals,” along with a photo of an official USCP Bulletin outlining new instructions. 

The Bulletin relies on July 27 guidance by the CDC that all persons, regardless of their vaccination status, should once again be made to wear masks indoors. The CDC’s guidance relies on weeks of fear stoked by the Delta Variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The USCP Bulletin, dated July 28, says the Office of the Attending Physician advised U.S. Congress to follow the CDC’s instructions. It requires USCP officers to wear masks anywhere on the Capitol grounds and at the “House-side of the Capitol Division,” which includes “House Office Buildings, the Hall of the House, and House Committee meetings.”

Any visitor or staff member who fails to comply with the mask mandate will be denied entry. If they do not immediately leave the premises, USCP is instructed to arrest the individual in question for Unlawful Entry. 

The order notes, “Although this applies to Members of Congress, officers should not arrest any Member for failure to wear a mask or comply with the mask mandate.” Instead, USCP is instructed to report the infraction to the Sergeant at Arms.

The same day as the CDC’s instruction was issued, Capitol attending physician Brian Monahan issued a directive advising that normal cotton masks were no longer acceptable. Instead, he wants to see people adorned with a “well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask” at all times in public spaces.

https://twitter.com/AndrewSolender/status/1420206380691206145?s=20

Notably, Monahan cited the KN95 specification, which is the made-in-China version of the American N95 standard. In September of 2020, Forbes found 70 percent of KN95 masks fail to meet U.S. minimum safety standards in real world usage.

Rep. Cammack told Fox News several USCP officers are “very uncomfortable” with the Bulletin’s instructions, adding, “I cannot comply with this tyrannical order…This is the people’s house, not Nancy Pelosi’s house.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) vowed in a July 29 statement on Twitter to defy the order, “This is INSANE. Might as well come into my office and arrest my entire staff. We are not wearing masks. I support the Capitol Hill Police, but the Chief of Police made a mistake here. The physician and the chief of police don’t have this authority.”

Capitol Police issued their own statement on Twitter on July 29, backdropped over a photograph of the Capitol Building, which said, “Regarding the House rules about masks, there is no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested, Anyone who does not follow the rules will be asked to wear a mask or leave the premises. The Department’s requirement for officers to wear masks is for their health and safety.”

However, Pelosi’s spokesperson Drew Hammill told Fox the Speaker does not control the USCP, and their office was not aware of the bulletin until it made headlines.

Additionally, a “Democratic House aide” provided Fox with a July 31, 2020 memo from the USCP with similar instructions to arrest visitors or staff members who do not abide by the original mask mandate for Unlawful Entry. 

On July 27, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) gave a hardline stance against the renewal of mask requirements on Twitter, “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.”

According to The Hill, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said of McCarthy’s comments to reporters outside the Capitol the next day, “He’s such a moron.”

“Pelosi then ducked into her vehicle and was whisked away from a climate event outside the Capitol,” said the article. 

A July 29 opinion piece in the normally moderate-yet-right-leaning Washington Examiner titled Just Four Covid Deaths in July, yet DC Reimposes Its Mask Mandate landed heavy criticism against the CDC’s reinstallation of the mandate, “The new indoor mask mandate, which becomes effective Saturday, is both fascistic and antithetical to science.”

The same author, Tiana Lowe, published a separate, but thinly-veiled vaccine promotion opinion piece July 28 titled The CDC’s Idiotic Mask Reversal is Based on Disinformation where she explained how the guidance is based on shoddy science, “The crux of the CDC’s new guidance rests on a single Indian study on coronavirus transmission among vaccinated hospital workers. Not only is the study not properly peer-reviewed, but it also models the effect of vaccines not even authorized in the United States.”

According to polling in the Back-to-Normal Barometer, only 40 percent of July respondents said they would continue to voluntarily wear a mask in the presence of others, down from 48 percent in June and 59 percent in May.

The Examiner quoted ROKK Solutions’ Ron Bonejean, one of three businesses to sponsor the Barometer’s polling, as saying, “Patience is growing thin among Americans being forced to comply with federal mask mandates.”

“As mask mandates begin to cover much of the country and our nation’s schools, it is likely that this is going to receive negative reaction, especially from those who are vaccinated.”

President of Sports and Leisure Research Group, Jon Last, similarly told the outlet, “Our tracking data has shown sentiment consistently trending away from supporting resumption of COVID-related restrictions or mandates.” He cautioned, “Yesterday’s revised CDC guidance could foreshadow increased tensions among an already highly politicized and volatile situation.”

  • Neil lives in Canada and writes about society and politics.