The House Ethics Committee upheld fines against three Republican lawmakers who the sergeant-at-arms determined failed to comply with the chamber’s rule requiring face masks, the committee announced on Friday.
The $500 penalties were originally imposed against Reps. Beth Van Duyne of Texas, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, and Brian Mast of Florida back in May in accordance with a since-reversed resolution requiring members to wear masks on the House floor.
Van Duyne and Mast both filed appeals with the committee on May 24 after notification of the fines, though a majority of members did not agree to the appeals, the committee announced.
Under House rules, those fined are allowed to file an appeal with the ethics committee, which then reviews the circumstances and decides whether or not to uphold the penalty with a majority vote.
“I appeal this violation and fine on several grounds,” Mast wrote in his appeal. “First, on the date of my alleged violation, I was in full compliance with Center[s] for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. I am fully vaccinated and followed the science, which on May 13, 2021, was updated by the CDC to state that ‘fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting.’ … Second, H.Res. 73 is in violation of Article 1, Section 5; Article 1, Section 6; and the 27th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Therefore, it is without merit and unenforceable.”
Mast slammed the committee’s decision upholding the fine and claimed the mask rules were not about science but were about “power and control.”
“The Ethics Committee has become a partisan clown show holding show trials for the amusement of Nancy Pelosi while unilaterally overturning fines for Democrats and enforcing them against Republicans,” Mast said in a statement provided to the Washington Examiner. “It’s absurd that after a year of telling Americans to ‘follow the science,’ Speaker Pelosi refuses to take her own advice. I was vaccinated, I was following CDC guidance, and yet, I was still fined because it has never been about the science for Speaker Pelosi. It has always been about power and control.”
Van Duyne’s appeal cited the same justifications as Mast’s and charged that the “enforcement of any mask rule has become a partisan, political issue, rather than one grounded in science,” noting Pelosi was seen last month at the White House without a mask amid a crowd of maskless people.
Miller-Meeks did not file an appeal within a timeline provided for by House rules, the committee said.
The three Republicans were among a group of more than a dozen House lawmakers who took off their masks in defiance of the requirement on May 18.
Legislators who spoke about the incident cited updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saying that vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks indoors or outside.
Brian Monahan, Congress’s attending physician, changed the chamber’s guidance on June 11 to state that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 may go without face masks on the House floor. Those who have not been fully vaccinated must still wear a mask, the updated guidance says. It is not clear whether or how vaccination status will be checked for those not wearing masks on the House floor.
The Washington Examiner reached out to the offices of Van Duyne and Miller-Meeks but did not immediately receive a response.
Author : Jeremy Beaman
Source : Washington Examiner : House Ethics Committee upholds mask fines against three Republicans