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 MassieEighth House GOP lawmaker issued 0 fine for not wearing mask on House floor Reps. Greene, Roy fined for not wearing masks on House floor Sixth House GOP lawmaker issued K metal detector fine MORE (Ky.) and Ralph NormanRalph Warren NormanOhio GOP congressman tests positive for COVID-19 Eighth House GOP lawmaker issued 0 fine for not wearing mask on House floor North Dakota Republican latest House breakthrough COVID-19 case 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 MastEighth House GOP lawmaker issued 0 fine for not wearing mask on House floor Reps. Greene, Roy fined for not wearing masks on House floor The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by AT&T - Texas's near abortion ban takes effect MORE (Fla.), Beth Van Duyne (Texas) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (Iowa), who also participated in the mask protest in May.
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 DeutchOvernight Health Care — Presented by The National Council for Mental Wellbeing — FDA panel advises Moderna booster shot for high-risk people Congress comes to the aid of Libyan people, passing bill ordering probe into war crimes and torture Ocasio-Cortez explains 'present' vote on Iron Dome 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."
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 PelosiOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Navy probe reveals disastrous ship fire response GOP rep leaves committee assignments after indictment Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending MORE (D-Calif.) tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days despite being fully vaccinated.
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPowerful Democrats push back on one-year extension of child tax credit The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Democrats optimistic after Biden meetings House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt 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.
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.