A top House Democrat is calling for members of the House of Representatives that refuse to wear masks on the House floor to attend and vote from plexiglass isolation boxes in the gallery.
Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., has asked the House Sergeant at Arms, Gen. William Walker, to prohibit members of Congress from entering the chamber without wearing masks, in order to minimize the spread of COVID.
Her request goes a step beyond House Resolution 38, which requires the Sergeant at Arms to imposes fines on Congressmembers who refuse to accord with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s policy requiring members wear masks when attending House floor sessions.
Under H.R. 38, Congress members may be fined $500 for their first offense against the mask mandate, and $2,500 for each subsequent offense.
“This callous disregard for House rules endangers the health of members of Congress and the professional staff whose physical presence is required to ensure continuity of government,” Clark wrote in a letter to Walker. The mask restriction, she adds, has only become more pressing during the Omicron variant surge.
The isolation boxes have previously been used for House members who have been exposed to COVID.
When reached for comment, Republican members of the House derided Clark’s request.
A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., replied simply: “That is an asinine idea.”
A statement from Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., called Clark’s request an authoritarian power grab.
“If members feel so threatened I’d argue that they may not be fit to do the job,” Green said. “Maybe they need to consider that they are the ones in the risk group, and they should just go sit it out until they feel safe to come out.”
Greene is regularly cited in statements from the House Ethics Committee for violating House rules; The Hill reported last November that she has accrued at least $48,000 in fines.
Without naming names, Clark noted in her letter to Walker that “two House members alone have accumulated more than $100,000 in fines over the last year.”
Reps. Lauren Boebert, of Colorado, Andrew Clyde, of Georgia, and Mariannette Miller-Meeks, of Iowa have each already accumulated fines under H.R. 38 this year.
"I resolutely refuse to bend the knee in order to appease the Left’s illogical mandates that are rooted in tyranny, not science," Clyde said in a statement to Spectrum News. "Instead of attempting to force me and my Republican colleagues into an ‘isolation box,’ Democrats should listen to the science and end their partisan theater so Congress can focus on fixing the Biden Administration’s slew of crises, including hyperinflation, rampant crime, and our porous border crisis – just to name a few – that continue to plague the American people.”
Clyde noted that he is among a group of congressional Republicans who have filed a lawsuit accusing Pelosi of violating the Constitution by docking their pay.
Note: This article was updated to include Rep. Andrew Clyde's statement.
Spectrum News' Ryan Chatelain contributed to this report.