A large maskless group of Republican Representatives entered the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Thursday (July 29) to protest the recently-reintroduced mask regime in the US Capitol.
U.S. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger ordered officers to arrest visitors and Capitol workers who are not wearing masks, if they refuse to leave the building or refuse to put on a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.
“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,” Manger wrote in a letter to Capitol Police officers. “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.”
According to Manger’s letter, offending lawmakers cannot be arrested, but only reported to the House sergeant-at-arms, as they have constitutional immunity.
Members had been allowed to be on the House floor without masks since June 11, but the House attending physician Dr. Brian Monahan reversed that guidance Tuesday night.
Reports estimated that between 40 and 50 Republicans took part in the demonstration, including Marjory Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Matt Gaetz and Byron Donalds of Florida, Louie Gohmert and Ronny Jackson of Texas, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Warren Davidson of Ohio, and Chip Roy.
Republicans who took part in the protest told reporters they wanted to highlight the differences between the House and the Senate. Masks are required in the House but only recommended in the Senate.
Heading to Senate floor with about 50 colleagues to demand we end the mask charade. pic.twitter.com/cJic4MpYmH
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) July 29, 2021
“At least in the Senate, they’re recognizing individual responsibility and following science, not just using this as a political tool,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told The Hill.
A few hours after the onslaught of Republican criticism, Capitol Police tweeted a short statement clarifying the enforcement policy.
“Regarding the House mask rule, there is no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested,” the statement read. “Anyone who does not follow the rules will be asked to wear a mask or leave the premises.”
With reporting by Fox News, USA Today, The Hill