Ethics panel upholds $500 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers

The House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday that it is upholding $500 fines against three additional GOP lawmakers for refusing to wear masks on the House floor while it was still required during the pandemic.

GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor GreeneMarjorie Taylor GreeneGOP efforts to downplay danger of Capitol riot increase The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene says she's meeting with Trump 'soon' in Florida MORE (Ga.), Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieBiden asks Pentagon to examine 'how and when' to mandate COVID-19 vaccine for troops House at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate Tempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate MORE (Ky.) and Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanTempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate Greene, Massie, Norman sue Pelosi over mask fines GOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing MORE (S.C.) all filed appeals against the fines that were issued in May. But they failed to persuade a majority of the panel, which is evenly split between the two parties.

The House Ethics Committee previously upheld the $500 fines levied against GOP Reps. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastTempers flare as some in GOP ignore new House mask mandate Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers 2021 marks deadliest year for manatees in Florida recorded history MORE (Fla.), Beth Van Duyne (Texas) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa), who also participated in the mask protest in May.

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All of the six Republicans were protesting the House floor mask mandate at the time given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recently announced that fully vaccinated people don't need to wear masks in most settings.

While Mast, Van Duyne, Miller-Meeks and Norman have all said they are vaccinated, Greene has declined to reveal her vaccination status, and Massie has said he won't get the vaccine because he previously tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Public health officials advise getting vaccinated despite any previous recovery from the virus.

Greene accused the Democrats on the House Ethics Committee of bias given that all but one of them — including Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchIncorporating mental health support into global assistance programs Ethics panel upholds 0 mask fines against Greene, other GOP lawmakers Sanders reaffirms support for Turner in Ohio amid Democratic rift MORE (Fla.) — have cosponsored a resolution to expel her from Congress.

"If they're signing a resolution to expel me, then they shouldn't be the people voting on the committee. I think that's definitely a conflict of interest," Greene told reporters after the Ethics Committee's announcement on Tuesday.

The Capitol physician initially defended keeping the House floor mask mandate in place in the days after the CDC announcement on May 13 because the lower chamber is "the only location where the entire membership gathers periodically throughout the day in an interior space."

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But the Capitol physician ultimately updated the guidance on June 11, stating that only people who are unvaccinated or "vaccination-indeterminate" should wear masks.

Yet such guidance has not been enforced, with few staff or lawmakers wearing masks in recent weeks.

More people in the Capitol did wear masks on Tuesday in light of news that Rep. Vern BuchananVernon Gale BuchananMORE (R-Fla.), a White House official and an aide to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries On The Money: Biden issues targeted eviction moratorium | GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days despite being fully vaccinated.

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerYellen tries to tamp down Democrats fury over evictions ban House bundling is bad for deliberation CBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium MORE (D-Md.) said Tuesday that while the House mask guidance remains unchanged for now, he wouldn't rule out the possibility of reinstating it amid the spread of the delta variant.

"Having a member come down with it and having a staffer come down with it is a stark example of why we need to be cautious," Hoyer told reporters.

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The Senate, meanwhile, has never had a mask mandate or fines to enforce the rules because most senators voluntarily complied with masks earlier in the pandemic and all but a few are vaccinated.

Pelosi first announced the House floor mask requirement last July due to numerous Republicans refusing to wear masks, including one who later tested positive for COVID-19.

House Democrats voted in January to enforce the mask rules with fines — $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for the second — after three of their members tested positive after spending hours in a crowded secure space during the Jan. 6 insurrection with several Republicans who did not wear masks.