'This is not a joke. Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk.'
The acting sergeant-at-arms for the U.S. House of Representatives has told members of Congress that they will be required to wear face masks while in the chamber moving forward, or risk removal from the floor.
The decision comes after three Democratic House members, forced to shelter with unmasked colleagues during the Capitol insurrection last Wednesday, tested positive for the coronavirus.
Timothy Blodgett, who was recently sworn in as the acting sergeant-at-arms, released a statement to "all members of Congress and Staff," saying that masks would be mandatory "when entering and while in the Chamber," and that those without a mask "will not be admitted to the Floor."
"... Members who fail to wear a mask will be removed from the Floor," the statement added.
Blodgett previously served as deputy to former sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving, who resigned after the violent Capitol riots last Wednesday.
House lawmakers are also taking initiative to protect their fellow members.
Democratic Reps. Anthony Brown (MD) and Debby Dingell (MI) on Tuesday proposed a $1,000 fine for any members not wearing masks on U.S. Capitol grounds.
Dingell said in a statement, "It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask, it is selfish, stupid, and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk."
"We're done playing games. Either have some common sense and wear a damn mask or pay a fine. It's not that complicated," she added."
A separate piece of legislation from House Democrats proposes fines for maskless members of Congress on the floor, with fines starting at $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for a second offense, according to CNN.
As the outlet noted, the fines, which would be deducted from congressional members' salaries, are set to be approved on Tuesday night.
Three Democratic House Reps. Brad Schneider (IL), Pramila Jayapal (WA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), contracted COVID-19 this week after a number of GOP members refused to don face coverings as they sheltered in place last week.
Jayapal has since called out her Republican colleagues, chiding them for not following basic safety guidelines in the middle of a raging pandemic.
"This is not a joke. Our lives and our livelihoods are at risk, and anyone who refuses to wear a mask should be fully held accountable for endangering our lives because of their selfish idiocy," Jayapal said in a statement on Monday, also calling for "serious fines to be immediately levied on every single member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.