Tensions between the party leaders in the House rose to a boil on Wednesday when Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiRepublicans caught in California's recall trap Raise the debt limit while starting to fix the budget 'Justice for J6' organizer calls on demonstrators to respect law enforcement MORE (D-Calif.) called her Republican counterpart, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms Far-right rally draws small crowd, large police presence at Capitol 'Justice for J6' rally puts GOP in awkward spot MORE (Calif.), a "moron" for his opposition to wearing masks in the House.
Brian Monahan, the Capitol physician, instituted a new mask mandate for the lower chamber late Tuesday night in response to a spike in infections from the delta variant of the coronavirus. The rise in cases also prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier Tuesday to push new recommendations for masking indoors, even among those who've been vaccinated.
Monahan's decision was hailed by Pelosi, who has leaned on his advice throughout the pandemic. But it met with skepticism from McCarthy, who blasted the new mandate as a Pelosi-imposed political ploy.
"Make no mistake — The threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state," McCarthy tweeted Tuesday night.
Pelosi backed the return to masking Wednesday morning, citing Monahan's scientific opinion.
"That's the purview of the Capitol Physician ... the mandate from him. I have nothing to say about that except we honor it," Pelosi told reporters outside the Capitol.
Asked about McCarthy's comments in opposition, Pelosi blasted the GOP leader.
"He's such a moron," she said.
Pelosi then ducked into her vehicle and was whisked away from a climate event outside the Capitol.