Politics

EXCLUSIVE: McCarthy, House Republicans Call For Answers From Attending Physician Over Mask Mandate Implemented In Capitol

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Henry Rodgers Senior Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and a group of Republicans sent a Tuesday letter to Rear Admiral Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician of the U.S. Congress, asking him to provide them with “increased transparency” regarding the mask mandate in the Capitol building.

“This is the People’s House, not Pelosi’s House. Forcing vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors is not supported by the evidence and contradicts the message that vaccines are safe and effective. Imposing mask mandates indefinitely, as the Speaker has done, is unscientific virtue signaling, purely political, and gross abuse of power that breaches the trust of the American people. As Republican Leader, I have asked Dr. Monahan to lay out a clear, scientifically-supported standard to measure when the mask mandate will end in Congress,” McCarthy told The Daily Caller.

The Daily Caller first obtained the letter to Monahan, which references a July 28 meeting with House Republicans, where the GOP said he committed to communicating with Republican Leadership at the same time as Democratic Leadership when any guidance or recommendations are in the works.

McCarthy and the group of 12 health professionals who serve in Congress also called for “increased transparency” as to what evidence is being studied that would lift the mask mandate from the Capitol. In the letter, the Republicans also shared their confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. (RELATED: Even With Breakthrough Cases, The Data Doesn’t Seem To Support Mask Mandates For Vaccinated People)

“The GOP Doctors Caucus, in partnership with Republican Leadership, has repeatedly encouraged our constituents, colleagues, and the American public to consult with their physician about getting vaccinated. Our U.S. vaccines are highly effective, and breakthrough symptomatic cases are exceedingly rare. As of July 26th, of the over 163 million Americans who have been vaccinated, there have been fewer than 5,000 hospitalizations related to breakthrough cases. This represents only 0.003% of vaccinated individuals in America,” the group wrote in the letter.

“That is why we are concerned with the messaging coming from officials in Washington, including through your most recent mask mandate. When issued, the mandate was not only inconsistent with the best available science but also went beyond the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance. At the time your recent mask mandate was issued, none of the studies cited by the CDC provided evidence that vaccinated individuals in the U.S. are likely vectors for viral transmission,” they continued.

READ THE LETTER HERE: 

(DAILY CALLER OBTAINED) — … by Henry Rodgers

The Republican lawmakers then questioned a study by the CDC which they said has not “undergone peer review and has also been rejected by at least one medical publication.”

“Although one study cited by the CDC at the time suggested the small number of individuals experiencing modeled symptomatic breakthrough infections carry a higher viral load, we question that study’s relevance to the broader situation in the United States, much less within the Capitol Complex. That study included only individuals in India who received vaccines that are not authorized for use in the U.S. Additionally, this study has not undergone peer review and has also been rejected by at least one medical publication. Nonetheless, you referenced this study in your memo to Members on July 27th as supporting evidence for the reimposition of the mask mandate in the House. Given that many of us are medical professionals, we find this particularly concerning.”

In May, the Daily Caller first reported that a group of over 30 House Republicans sent a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calling on her to return the House to normalcy and asked her to abide by the CDC guidelines released earlier in the day. (RELATED: Rand Paul Introduces Legislation To Repeal Federal Mask Mandate For Public Transportation)

That letter was spearheaded by Republican Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs and signed by 33 other Republicans. They called on Pelosi to return the House to normal in-person voting procedures and end mandatory mask requirements in the House. The CDC released guidelines May 13 that said masks are no longer required to be worn inside by fully vaccinated people in “most” situations. The CDC has since changed the guidance to require masks be worn inside, referencing the delta variant. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Republicans Call On Pelosi To Return House To Normal, End Mask Mandate After New CDC Guidelines Released)

The data on breakthrough infections as of July 26, when the delta surge was already underway, shows just 4,641 vaccinated Americans out of 163 million had been hospitalized directly due to COVID-19. Nine hundred fifty-four died, according to the CDC.