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A growing group of Republican lawmakers is playing chicken with the Capitol police after refusing a new mask mandate, despite the threat of arrest.
Capitol police chief Thomas Manger ordered officers to report any members of Congress who refuse to wear a mask, warning they would be subject to arrest for unlawful entry under DC Code 22-3302.
While officers were directed to report members to the Sergeant at Arms before an immediate arrest, they weren’t told to give any staff or visitors the same leeway.
House Republican representatives Thomas Massie and Nancy Mace dared Nancy Pelosi and police to come at them, while Lauren Boebert reportedly dropped an offered mask to the floor (or slid across the table, per her office), and Marjorie Taylor Greene called on every Republican to ignore the "bulls***" after the mandate was reintroduced on Wednesday.
"This is INSANE," Mr Massie tweeted. "Might as well come into my office and arrest my entire staff. We are not wearing masks. I support the Capitol Hill Police, but the Chief of Police made a mistake here. The physician and the chief of police don’t have this authority."
Ms Mace, meanwhile, posted a video online along with a bat, pile of poo, and clown emojis to taunt the House speaker and Capitol police to have at it, while telling her staff to work from home to avoid arrest.
"I had Covid, I’ve had two vaccinations, I’m washing my hands, I’m even wearing my mask inside the chamber, but I’m not going to wear it anywhere else. So Madam Speaker, come and get me," Ms Mace said.
This morning Capitol Hill Police were directed to arrest anyone not wearing a mask. This is nuts. 🦇 💩 🤡 https://t.co/pyXt343UEp
— Nancy Mace (@NancyMace) July 29, 2021
Ms Taylor Greene, who along with Mr Massie is suing Ms Pelosi over $500 fines for not wearing a mask, said the Office of the Attending Physician has no authority to fine members or deny their vote if not wearing a mask.
“In other words, Dr [Brian] Monahan is just another Pelosi puppet and is guilty of medical malpractice. After hearing this bulls*it, every single Republican should refuse to wear masks,” she tweeted.
The GOP blowback comes after Mr Monhan’s briefing to GOP lawmakers late Wednesday was followed up with the Capitol police’s bulletin Thursday morning, which was posted online by member Kat Cammack as “today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power”.
In today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals.
For Members, they advise not arresting but “reporting Members to SAA for their failure to comply.”
— Congresswoman Kat Cammack (@RepKatCammack) July 29, 2021
"I cannot comply with this tyrannical order," Ms Cammack told Fox News. "This is the people’s house, not Nancy Pelosi’s house."
A spokesman for Ms Pelosi told the outlet she does not control the US Capitol Police.
"We were unaware of the memo until it was reported in the press," he said.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy said Capitol police arresting people on the House side of Congress, but not the Senate side where there is no mask mandate, is “not the America we know”.
Steve Scalise claimed the order came directly from Pelosi, despite the denial from her office.
“To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren’t wearing masks. This isn’t about science – it’s about power and control,” he tweeted.
Ms Boebert, who has been one of the most vocal opponents against the mask mandate, lead the GOP push back on Democrats ignoring their own mask mandate even as Capitol police made the arrest threats.
“Want to start with the House Attending Physician, Nancy?” she tweeted along with a photo of Dr Monhan.
— Lauren Boebert (@laurenboebert) July 29, 2021
Matt Rosendale posted a video of Democrat Jerry Nadler without a mask implying the “mandates and threats of arrest don’t apply to senior Democrats”.