Washington: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will require that masks be worn on the House floor after a Republican member of Congress tested positive for the coronavirus.
The member, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, often shunned wearing masks and was known to vote without one.
Pelosi announced on the House floor Wednesday evening that all members will be required to wear a mask and one will be provided if they forget. She said failure to wear a mask is a “serious breach of decorum” and members could be removed from the chamber if they aren’t wearing one. They will be able to temporarily remove them while speaking, however.
“It’s a sign of respect for the health, safety and well-being of others present in the chamber and in surrounding areas,” Pelosi said.
Gohmert tested positive just before he was scheduled to travel to his home state with President Donald Trump. He was forced to abruptly cancel his plans, and immediately faced criticism from colleagues for not always wearing a mask on Capitol Hill, where face coverings are not mandatory and testing is sparse. “A selfish act,” one lawmaker said.
The 66-year-old Gohmert, one of the House’s most conservative and outspoken members, told a Texas news station that he tested positive at the White House and planned to self-quarantine. He is at least the 10th member of Congress known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The congressman’s positive test raised further questions about the lack of mask and testing requirements in the Capitol as members frequently fly back and forth from their hometowns and gather for votes, hearings and news conferences. Several GOP senators said they were pushing for more regular testing in the Capitol.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.