Dozens of House Republicans and their staffers marched maskless out of the House to the Senate floor in protest of the new mask mandate for the lower chamber.
The lawmakers and their staffers traveled across the Capitol on Thursday to protest the fact that Capitol Police have instructed officers to arrest staffers and visitors who don’t wear masks and refuse to leave the House.
Republican congressmen and staffers protest the new mask mandate in the House chamber, July 29, 2021. (Luke Ball)
Prior to the migration, Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, motioned to adjourn the House in protest against the mandate that Republicans have said came down from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“Congressman Roy said it succinctly on the House floor Wednesday: ‘We have a crisis at our border and we’re playing footsie with mask mandates in the people’s house,’” a Roy spokesperson told Fox News in an email.
“The fact that Speaker Pelosi is willing to have vaccinated staffers arrested for not complying with her mask mandate while the border remains wide open tells you all you need to know,” they continued. “This isn’t about science. It’s about politics and control.”
Cawthorn told Fox News in a Thursday statement that the Republicans who left the House chamber to protest the mask mandate “took a firm stance on individual liberty.”
“Along with the majority of Americans, we rejected the totalitarian, hypocritical, and arbitrary ruling from Speaker Pelosi demanding masks be worn in the House,” Cawthorn said. “My staff should never fear arrest because they practice individual responsibility.”
The North Carolina congressman’s communications director, Micah Bock, told Fox News on Thursday that he was stopped by a Capitol Police officer and prevented from entering the Cannon House Office Building for not wearing a mask.
Bock said he was advised by the officer that he had to “wear a mask to go through security” and that what he did after he went through was his “own concern.”
Republicans have taken aim at Pelosi for the mandate since the move by Capitol Police was announced on Thursday.
“The speaker of the House does not control the U.S. Capitol Police,” Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill previously told Fox News. “We were unaware of the memo until it was reported in the press.”
Capitol Police told Fox News in a Thursday email that “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,” Capitol Police said. “The Department’s requirement for officers to wear masks is for their health and safety.”
A similar rule has been in place before. The Constitution gives members of Congress privilege from some arrests in the Capitol, such as in cases of unlawful entry. So far, there is no such mask mandate on the Senate side.
Washington, D.C. announced it will restart its indoor mask mandate on Saturday to reflect federal guidelines.