KEY POINTS

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., threatens to remove from the House floor any member not wearing a face mask
  • House Republicans expected to push back despite recent positive COVID-19 tests among members
  • Seven GOP and three Democratic congressmen have tested positive for the virus in recent weeks 

The threat by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to remove from the House floor any House member not wearing a face mask is expected to draw sharp resistance from Republicans hardliners who have refused to do so.

Pelosi drew the line after fellow congressman Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, tested positive Wednesday for the virus that causes COVID-19. Gohmert’s positive test forced many other lawmakers to self-isolate after having close contact with him.

"Members and staff will be required to wear masks at all times in the hall of the House,” said Pelosi. "Except that members may remove their masks, temporarily, when recognized."

Pelosi said the speaker has the authority "to direct the sergeant at arms to remove a member from the floor as a matter of decorum." She emphasized not wearing a mask will be considered a "serious breach of decorum."

Gohmert is among a group of hardcore Republicans who openly oppose wearing face coverings inside the U.S. Capitol. Ten congressmen – seven Republicans and three Democrats -- have tested positive for the virus over the past few months. Also testing positive are dozens of congressional staff members.

Because of the rising number of infections, leaders of both parties intend to change some of their COVID-19 protocols. There is no word on whether testing will be made mandatory and conducted regularly.

Before the order, lawmakers were only encouraged to wear masks in the chamber and committee rooms. House members and staff also were not required to have their temperatures checked before entering the Capitol Hill complex. They also aren't required to be tested for the virus.

Democrats have clashed with and criticized their GOP colleagues such as Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who keeps refusing to wear face masks. On Tuesday, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., urged some Republicans to follow the rules and wear their mask during the hearing involving Attorney General William Barr.

“I’m concerned about the irresponsible behavior of many Republicans who have chosen consistently to flout well established public health guidance, perhaps out of fealty to their boss Donald Trump, who is the head of the anti-mask movement in America,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries.

He added Republicans need to “stop politicizing public health guidance” and wear masks at all times in the building.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pictured. Photo: GETTY IMAGES/Drew Angerer