A day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called him a “moron” over his objection to the return of a mask requirement on Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy responded Thursday by saying Pelosi needs to “understand the science” surrounding the mandate.
“We believe in science and we want a speaker that will take the time to understand the science instead of just calling people names,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said at a press conference.
In a speech on the House floor Wednesday, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, tore into McCarthy’s comments.
“Look, the attending physician of the United States Capitol, the top doctor for Congress, asks us to put on masks when we come to a chamber with 435 people,” Ryan said. “I hate these things. Absolutely. It was terrible having to put this back on. And we do it because the top doctor for all of us asked us to.”
“I may not be from a hot spot,” he added. “Somebody in this chamber is coming from a hot spot.”
Appearing on CNN, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., criticized Republicans who insist on politicizing the mask issue.
“Well, I just gotta say, the minority leader and many of my colleagues on the Republican side have been whining big time about the masks,” Lofgren said. “I mean, who likes to wear a mask? I don’t. But I’d rather do that than give COVID to children too young to be vaccinated.
“Let’s stop thinking that the rules don’t apply to us ’cause we’re so special because we’re in the House of Representatives,” she continued. “Come on, get a grip. Do what’s responsible. Let’s get to legislating the people’s business instead of whining.”
In a memo issued late Tuesday night, Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress’s top doctor, announced the change in policy based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommending that masks be worn indoors by all Americans — vaccinated or unvaccinated — who are in areas with high COVID transmission rates.
“For the Congress, representing a collection of individuals traveling weekly from various risk areas (both high and low rates of disease transmission), all individuals should wear a well-fitted, medical-grade filtration mask (for example an ear loop surgical mask or a KN95 mask) when they are in an interior space,” Monahan wrote in the memo.
McCarthy, the top Republican in the House, voiced his objection in a tweet.
“Make no mistake,” McCarthy tweeted, “the threat of bringing masks back is not a decision based on science, but a decision conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state.”
When asked by reporters about McCarthy’s assertion that the return of the mandate was “not based on science,” Pelosi said, “He’s such a moron.”
At her weekly press conference later Wednesday, the speaker did not repeat her disparaging characterization.
“I said earlier in my comments, science, science, science and science,” Pelosi said. “On almost every subject you can name, science is the answer, whether it’s the climate crisis, whether it’s a health crisis, whether it’s our preeminence in the world of technology, science, science, science, science. To say that wearing a mask is not based on science, I think, is not wise, and that was my comment.”
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