WASHINGTON — There are now newer, tougher mask rules for Congress and staff at the U.S. Capitol after Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who has been loudly resistant to mask rules, tested positive for COVID-19.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says face masks are now mandatory.
“The speaker has the authority to direct the Sergeant at Arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of decorum,” Pelosi said.
The new rule came hours after Gohmert tested positive for the coronavirus before boarding Air Force One Wednesday to fly with the president to Texas.
He returned to the Capitol to tell his office in person.
“I didn’t have any of the symptoms that you see listed for the coronavirus. Anyways, now I need to self quarantine,” he said.
The news of his diagnosis made some of his colleagues uncomfortable.
“I’ve been in contact with Congressman Gohmert a couple of times,” said Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA).
Hice says he immediately went home to quarantine.
“We need to be serious about this,” said Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX).
Gohmert has been outspoken about not wearing a mask, but Hurd says Pelosi’s new mandate makes sense to him.
“I’ve been wearing masks when I am not in my personal office, when nobody is in there, but I don’t have staff here,” Hurd said.
Many lawmakers decided to close their offices and are having staff telecommute. Gohmert’s office has previously been open, but today, his office doors were closed.
“I got it. We’ll see what happens from here,” Gohmert said.
Gohmert is known for spending a lot of time in his D.C. office, including sleeping there. On Thursday, a new sign was posted on the door that reads “Nightly cleaning is required. Please clean.”