Amid whipsawing advice from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention on the need for masks even among the vaccinated, the U.S. Capitol Police – arguably under the ultimate auspices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – have been ordered to arrest any congressional staffers or visitors to the House side of the legislative complex who are not wearing face coverings, as The Hill reports.
According to a memo put forth by Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, officers were directed to take action against unmasked staffers and visitors, but were simultaneously told not to arrest lawmakers who defied the mandate, but to instead report them to the sergeant-at-arms, as Fox News noted.
Manger’s memo stated in relevant part, “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 the House Office Buildings or House-side of the U.S. 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.”
Republican Rep. Kat Cammack of Florida characterized the new edict as “today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power” and claimed that officers with whom she has consulted are “very uncomfortable” with the prospect of having to enforce the rule.
“I cannot comply with this tyrannical order,” Cammack stated. “This is the people’s house, not Nancy Pelosi’s house,” she added, according to Fox News.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace made her disgust with the new requirements even more emphatic, declaring her determination to thwart the requirement and challenging Pelosi to attempt to impose fines or other discipline on her in response. “Madame Speaker, your insane power grab is showing,” said Mace.
Madam Speaker, your insane power grab is showing. Today I’m not wearing a mask outside of the chamber b/c I follow science — not Pelosi. Come and get me. pic.twitter.com/7vDNn4Tzke
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) July 29, 2021
While Pelosi aide Drew Hammill contended that “The speaker of the House does not control the U.S. Capitol Police,” and claimed that her office was “unaware of the memo until it was reported in the press,” Republicans were quick to question those assertions. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), noted that the Capitol Police are only empowered to make mask-related arrests on the House side and not on the Senate side because the latter chamber’s leadership did not reimpose rules requiring face coverings.
The egregiousness of this latest display of governmental overreach in the guise of public health concerns was perhaps best summed up by conservative commentator Greg Price who observed on Thursday, “Walk into the Capitol without a mask and you’ll be arrested. Cross our border illegally with COVID and you’ll get a bus ticket to the city of your choice.”