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Three GOP lawmakers representing Texas in the U.S. House have been either fined or given a warning this week for not wearing a mask on the House floor.
U.S. Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, and Chip Roy, R-Austin, were given first warnings. U.S. Rep. Beth Van Duyne of Irving received a $500 fine for violating the House’s mask mandate a second time, a Capitol Hill official who was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue told The Texas Tribune. A handful of other Republicans including U.S. Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado were also reprimanded.
Under guidance from the Capitol’s attending physician, House members are required to wear a mask until all members and floor staff have been vaccinated for COVID-19. Only 44.8% of Republicans in the House have confirmed with CNN that they have been vaccinated compared to 100% of Democrats in both the House and the Senate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks in most public places. Gohmert and Roy did not respond to questions about whether they have been vaccinated. Van Duyne confirmed in a statement that she has been vaccinated.
It’s unclear exactly how many House Republicans have received the COVID-19 vaccine, but at least one House Republican has said he doesn’t plan on getting inoculated — U.S. Rep. Tom Massie of Kentucky.
Clinical trials and ongoing real-life data continue to show that the vaccines are overwhelmingly effective at preventing serious illness and death from the virus.
A formal warning is given for violating the mask mandate for the first time, a $500 fine for the second offense and then $2,500 for each offense after that.
Shortly after the CDC’s announcement, a group of more than 30 House Republicans sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for an end to the chamber’s mask requirement and a return to normal voting procedures. Gohmert, Van Duyne, and U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson, a Republican representing Amarillo who served as President Donald Trump’s White House physician, signed the letter.
“The United States Congress must serve as a model to show the country we can resume normal life through vaccination. Let’s follow the science and get back to work,” the letter stated.
According to the Capitol official, the House’s mask mandate “is consistent with CDC guidelines given Members of the House are not fully vaccinated.”
In a statement to the Tribune, Van Duyne called the mask mandate “political theatre.”
“I believe perpetuating fear is irresponsible and a disservice to Americans. The administration has advised wearing a mask indoors is not necessary for those of us who are fully vaccinated,” Van Duyne said. “Nancy Pelosi remains insistent on controlling and fining members of Congress who simply want to do their job instead of being a puppet in her fear mongering political theater.”
Gohmert and Roy’s offices did not respond to a request for comment.