Pelosi says masks to stay on House floor despite CDC guidance

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says masks will still be required for members of Congress and staff on the House floor.
(Susan Walsh / Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said masks will still be required for members of Congress and staff on the House floor despite new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that face coverings aren’t needed for those who are fully vaccinated.

Pelosi issued the mandate last year after many Republicans refused to wear masks during the coronavirus pandemic. The CDC announcement prompted some House Republicans to call on Pelosi and the Office of the Attending Physician to lift the mask rule.

She isn’t easing the requirement because it’s not known how many House members and their staffs are vaccinated, said her spokesman, Drew Hammill.


House members were told earlier this week that they could lower their masks when speaking in the House chamber. Separately, the attending physician, Brian Monahan, issued guidance relaxing mask and distancing requirements in House office buildings and other areas of the Capitol complex for those who have been fully vaccinated. “You can resume activities that you did prior to the pandemic,” Monahan wrote in a memo.

There was never a mask requirement in the Senate. Minority leader Mitch McConnell quickly removed his mask after the CDC guidance saying, “free at last.”

In a letter to Pelosi on Thursday, Rep. Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, demanded not only the end of the House mask mandate, but also the virus-related provision to vote by proxy and to conduct virtual hearings.

“It is important that we, as members of Congress, lead by example by returning to normal operations,” he wrote.