Heating Up The COVID Crackdown, Capitol Police Asked To Arrest Congressional Aides Who Aren’t Wearing Masks

(Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Bradley Devlin General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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Congressional aides and visitors to the House of Representatives side of the U.S. Capitol will be arrested if they fail to comply with mask guidance, U.S. Capitol Police announced Wednesday.

Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, who took over as chief one week ago, sent a letter to the officers of the U.S. Capitol Police Wednesday that said, “If a visitor or staff member fails to wear a mask after a request is made to do so, the visitor or staff shall be denied entry to the House Office Buildings or House-side of the U.S. Capitol,” The Hill reported.

“Any person who fails to either comply or leave the premises after being asked to do so would be subject to an arrest for Unlawful Entry,” Manger went on to say, according to The Hill. Congressmembers will be required to wear masks based on the new guidance peddled by Capitol physician Brian Monahan earlier this week, but will not face the same strict enforcement as staffers and guests, The Hill noted.

Members of Congress who do not comply with the new guidance, however, will be “refer[ed] the matter to the House Sergeant at Arms,” Manger wrote, The Hill reported.

Republicans have decried the new guidance and the Capitol Police’s chosen method of enforcement as a continuation of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s power grab using law enforcement. (RELATED: House Imposes Mask Mandate Again With New CDC Guidance)

On Tuesday, Republican Florida Rep. Kat Cammack tweeted out the letter with the caption, “today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power.”

“Madam Speaker, your insane power grab is showing,” Republican South Carolina Rep. Nancy Mace tweeted.

“Today I’m not wearing a mask outside of the chamber b/c I follow science — not Pelosi. Come and get me.”

But, Capitol Police said in a Thursday afternoon statement that there would be no problems if representatives, staffers and guests just complied with the rules.

“Regarding the House rules about masks, there is no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested,” the email statement read, The Hill claimed. “Anyone who does not follow the rules will be asked to wear a mask or leave the premises. The Department’s requirement for officers to wear masks is for their health and safety.”

Pelosi has supported maintaining strict mask mandates in the Capitol, citing the guidance issued by Monahan. “That’s the purview of the Capitol physician … the mandate from him. I have nothing to say about that except we honor it,” Pelosi stated Wednesday, according to The Hill.

The renewed mandate follows new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which recommends vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors to stop the spread of the delta variant.

Democrat Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced Thursday that vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals will have to wear masks indoors, even though only two people in the district have died from COVID-19 in the past two weeks.