Pelosi imposes a mandatory mask policy for the house floor

Michael Collins, the former chief of staff for Representative Lewis and Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), hugged each other after the coffin with the remains of Representative John Lewis (D-GA) was brought from the United States Capitol building, in Washington, July 29, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | Pool via Reuters

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, imposed a mandatory mask policy for the House floor on Wednesday.

Pelosi first revealed the new rule during a call with high-ranking Democrats shortly before announcing it to the House chamber, a source said in the call to CNBC.

Members of Congress and Congressional staff must wear face masks all the time they are in the camera, except when they are recognized to be speaking, Pelosi said on the floor Wednesday night.

Otherwise, it will be considered a “serious violation of decorum,” he added.

The new policy comes just hours after Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert announced that he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gohmert reportedly tested positive before boarding Air Force One to travel to Texas with President Donald Trump. Gohmert said in a video posted on social media later Wednesday that he had tested positive for two different tests of Covid-19 at the White House.

Pelosi, when asked about Gohmert’s diagnosis on Wednesday morning, said: “I am very sorry for him. But I also regret that my members are concerned that he has been showing up at meetings without a mask and doing one thing. With Luck will now take care of your health and others. “

Gohmert appears to be the eleventh member of Congress to test positive, a list that so far had included nine members of the House and one senator, Rand Paul from Kentucky.

Masks, like most other aspects of the coronavirus pandemic, have been heavily politicized. Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say they never wear a mask when they are out of their homes, recent polls show.

Trump himself has largely resisted wearing a mask and has questioned its usefulness as an effective tool in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

But last week he seemed to strongly support the use of face masks and tweeted: “Many people say it’s patriotic to wear a face mask when you can’t socially distance yourself. There’s no one more patriotic than me, your favorite president!”

Pelosi made it clear in her comments on camera Wednesday night that members of Congress and their staff “will not be able to enter the Chamber Chamber without wearing a mask.” She said that the masks will be available on the doors of the house floor for those who do not have them.

He added: “The president would also like to remind members that the speaker has the authority to order the sergeant-at-arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of propriety.”

– CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.