COLUMBIA, S.C. – Three Republican U.S. House members have lost appeals challenging fines for not wearing face coverings on the House floor earlier this year.
On Tuesday, the U.S. House Ethics Committee released statements noting that U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Ralph Norman of South Carolina had failed in their appeals of $500 fines issued in May.
The Republicans challenged the fines in June, arguing that the mandate was out of sync with recent federal guidance on face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote in question happened a week after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance noting that “fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing.”
At the time, face coverings were still required on the floor, a mandate put in place by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in June 2020. Even after the updated CDC guidance in May, Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’ attending physician, wrote that “mask requirement and other guidelines remain unchanged until all Members and floor staff are fully vaccinated.”
“I voted on the House floor without wearing my mask,” Norman wrote. “I did so because I was following the direction of our nation's top scientists that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear a mask.”
In her appeal, Greene called the fine “arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not consistent with law or with principles of fairness."
A handful of Republican lawmakers were fined. Greene, Massie and Norman, along with Rep. Mary E. Miller of Illinois, took a maskless selfie on the House floor.
On June 11, the requirement was lifted, with Monahan writing that fully vaccinated members, staff and visitors to the chamber could shed their masks. Norman said in his appeal that he has been fully vaccinated since February. Both Greene and Massie have said they have not taken the vaccine.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.