Republican Rep. Brian Mast is appealing a $500 fine House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued him after he failed to wear a mask on the House floor. Mast said he was “in full compliance” with new guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I am appealing Speaker Pelosi’s $500 fine because I was in full compliance with the CDC guidance and it is unlawful,” Mast, R-Fla., said in a statement Monday. “The scientists at the CDC told us if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your life without wearing a mask or physically distancing. So, that’s what I’m doing.”
He added: “It has never been about following the science for Speaker Pelosi. It has always been about power and control.”
Mast, who is fully vaccinated, was fined $500 for not following Pelosi’s mask requirement, which the speaker and Capitol Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan have said will remain unchanged “until all members and floor staff are fully vaccinated.” According to Pelosi, a second violation will result in a $2,500 fine.
Mast, in appealing the fine, sent a letter to chair of the House Ethics Committee Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and ranking member Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., arguing that he “was in full compliance” with CDC guidance.
“I am fully vaccinated and followed the science, which on May 13, 2021, was updated by the CDC to state that ‘fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting,'” Mast wrote.
“Any requirements to the contrary are reliant on the CDC guidance and so must fall within the CDC’s update,” he said.
The CDC, earlier this month, issued new guidance that fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outdoors, or physically distance, though it allows businesses and workplaces to set their own rules.
But Pelosi, D-Calif., still requires masks on the House floor.
Pelosi has previously estimated that about 75% of House members are vaccinated. She urged Republicans who haven’t gotten the shots to get the jab if they want to stop wearing masks. Several of the most outspoken GOP mask critics have refused to say whether or not they are vaccinated as they flout the mask rules, creating a level of distrust among members.
But Pelosi has called out members of Congress who have “selfishly” refused to get vaccinated.
“They are selfishly an endangerment to other people, including staff people here,” Pelosi said Thursday of her colleagues who haven’t been vaccinated.
“We have a responsibility to make sure the House of Representatives’ chamber is not a petri dish,” she added during her weekly news conference at the Capitol.
“It is unfortunate that a large number of people in the Congress have refused to be vaccinated,” Pelosi said. “… Until they are vaccinated, we cannot have meetings without masks.”
Pelosi, though, has somewhat relaxed the mask guidance so that members could take their face coverings off when they are recognized to speak on the House floor.
Meanwhile, there is no mask rule in the Senate chamber.