If the Ethics Committee “determines that any Member, Delegate or Resident Commissioner” is in violation, the committee “shall fine such individual $1,000 for each day that such violation occurs,” according to the text of the bill.
It is a move that comes as at least three Democratic House members — Reps. Brad Schneider (Ill.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.) — revealed within 24 hours that they had tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering with dozens others in a committee room on Wednesday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the building. Several Republicans in the room refused to wear a mask.
“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask, it is selfish, stupid, and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk,” Dingell said in a statement first sent to The Washington Post.
She cited the recent loss of a member-elect from the virus. Luke Letlow (R), a 41-year-old congressman-elect from Louisiana, died from complications due to coronavirus days before he would have been sworn in.
“Yet still, in the midst of a deadly assault on our United States Capitol, a number of our Republican colleagues laughed off rules designed to keep not just their colleagues safe, but to protect the lives of the teams of workers keeping things going, law enforcement, and staff throughout the Capitol,” Dingell said, adding: “We’re done playing games. Either have some common sense and wear a damn mask or pay a fine. It’s not that complicated.”
Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician to Congress and the Supreme Court, wrote to members on Sunday warning that those who sheltered together as rioters stormed the Capitol may have been exposed to someone with the virus. Two House aides confirmed to The Post during the weekend that Monahan was referring to a room where dozens of House members went during the attack.
Footage first published by Punchbowl News last week showed maskless Republicans — including Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Michael Cloud (Tex.), Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) and Scott Perry (Pa.) — who also refused to take masks that were offered by Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) while in the room.
Now, Dingell and Brown are among a handful of lawmakers calling for penalties for lawmakers who do not wear face coverings and for the House to take a strong position on enforcing protocols within the Capitol as the pandemic continues.
In her Monday statement announcing her diagnosis, Jayapal said she was “also calling for serious fines to be immediately levied on every single member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”
“Additionally, any member who refuses to wear a mask should be immediately removed from the floor by the Sergeant-at-Arms,” she said. “This is not a joke. Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy.”
In his statement, Schneider said members who “flout public health guidance should be sanctioned and immediately removed from the House floor by the Sergeant at Arms for their reckless endangerment of their colleagues.”
“We can no longer tolerate members coming to the floor or gathering in the halls of Congress without doing the bare minimum to protect those around them,” he said.
Meanwhile, the House vote on setting debate Tuesday night on the resolution urging the invocation of the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump will include language to impose a fine system for members who don’t comply with a mask requirement on the House floor, according to a senior House Democratic aide. The system would include a $500 fine for the first offense and $2,500 fine for the second offense, with fines deducted from the lawmaker’s pay.
All three who recently tested positive, including 75-year-old cancer survivor Watson Coleman, pointed fingers at their maskless colleagues in announcing their diagnoses. In a Tuesday tweet, Watson Coleman implored “anyone who sheltered at the Capitol during the attack to get tested.”
Dingell and Brown’s legislation, which has 15 Democratic co-sponsors, would require mask-wearing in the Capitol complex until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspends its recommendations for wearing masks inside buildings.