Fully vaccinated lawmakers in the House of Representatives are no longer required to wear a mask or remain physically distanced while in the chamber or committee hearings, Brian Monahan, Congress’s attending physician, announced Friday.
In a memo, Monahan said mask wearing would be “discretionary” for vaccinated lawmakers and staff but required for those who have not yet been vaccinated.
“The decrease of community transmission and the increase in the rate of vaccine led to this announcement,” a senior Democratic aide said. “Capitol Hill complex is at 85 percent vaccination rate which is extremely high.”
The policy change comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sparred over the requirements in recent months.
Republicans argued that the mask mandate should be lifted, but Pelosi resisted changing the rules and argued everyone lawmaker needed to be vaccinated.
Leadership estimated in May that 75 percent of House members had been vaccinated.
Members of Congress were among the first Americans with access to the vaccines.
A small group of House Republicans — including Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia; Chip Roy, of Texas; and Lauren Boebert of Colorado — repeatedly protested the mask rule and have refused to disclose their vaccination status. The fine for breaking the mask rule was $500 for a first offense and $2,500 for a second offense.