Pelosi slams unvaccinated lawmakers and reiterates House mask mandate, saying she won’t let Congress become ‘a petri dish because of the selfishness of some’

Nancy pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) leaves after holding her weekly press conference at the U.S. Capitol on May 20, 2021. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dismissed demands by some Republicans to ease the chamber’s mask mandate.
  • She said she has a responsibility to not let Congress become “a petri dish.”
  • Several GOP members this week appeared maskless on the floor, violating House rules.
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday reiterated that the chamber’s mask mandate will stay in place until all members have been vaccinated against COVID-19, dismissing demands by some Republicans to ease restrictions.

“We have to wait for them to be vaccinated because they are selfishly a [danger] to other people,” Pelosi said of several GOP lawmakers who have refused to disclose their vaccination status but insist on appearing maskless on the House floor.

All 219 House Democrats have said they received the coronavirus vaccine, but 109 of 211 House Republicans have not said whether they’ve gotten the shot, according to a list compiled by CNN.

“What is this, the honor system? The honor system as to whether somebody’s been vaccinated?” Pelosi said. “Do you want them breathing in your face on the strength of their honor?”

The California Democrat added that she has a responsibility to make sure Congress doesn’t become “a petri dish because of the selfishness of some not to be vaccinated.”

“It’s not a, shall we way, subjective decision,” Pelosi said. “This is about science and governance.”

-Scott Dworkin (@funder) May 20, 2021

Pelosi’s comments come a day after GOP lawmakers put forth a resolution to lift the House mask mandate, but Democrats tabled the effort. Several Republican members openly defied the face-covering requirement on the House floor this week. They were later faced with a series of warnings and fines for violating the rules.

The GOP protest came in response to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidance last week that fully-vaccinated individuals no longer have to wear masks indoors.

Following the CDC announcement, the Capitol’s attending physician, Brian Monahan, announced that mask rules in the House chamber will remain unchanged until all lawmakers and Capitol staff are fully vaccinated. Current rules state that all House members and staff must wear a mask on the floor except for when speaking.

Pelosi said she’s “hoping” the updated CDC guidelines will encourage more people to get their shot.

“We want to get through this as soon as possible,” she said. “Does anybody feel like wearing a mask? So, no, we all want to get through this.”