U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) were ordered to start arresting visitors and staff who refuse to wear a mask on the House side of the Capitol complex starting Thursday, according to a police memo issued by new USCP Chief Thomas Manger that was obtained by a member of Congress.
Police were also advised not to arrest members of Congress for failing to wear masks but to report the lawmakers’ noncompliance to the House sergent-at-arms, the memo says.
Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., got a copy of the memo distributed at Thursday’s morning roll call from an unnamed police officer, she told Fox News. Police she’s spoken to are “very comfortable” with this new directive that Cammack describes as “tyrannical.”
“This is such an overstep of Speaker Pelosi’s authority to basically make our Capitol Police arrest staff members and report on members,” Cammack told Fox News Wednesday. “It’s absolutely unconscionable that this is where we’re at.”
Cammack, like many other GOP reps, are up in arms about the return this week of mask mandates at the House, regardless of vaccination status, following updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance in the wake of the rise of the contagious COVID delta variant and lower-than-expected vaccination rates.
GOP members huddled with Capitol Attending Physician Brian P. Monahan Wednesday at the Capitol to express their frustrations with the new mask guidance and say it’s not based on science. GOP members have openly revolted against the mask mandates – especially since it’s not in place on the Senate side – and said it’s a politically motivated mandate from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
“I cannot comply with this tyrannical order,” Cammack said. “This is the people’s house, not Nancy Pelosi’s house.”
The Capitol Police did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment about the new memo, which also advises that officers must wear masks at all times while indoors.
But GOP leadership was quick to pounce on the police’s involvement.
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, Thursday pointed out the police are only permitted to arrest people on the House side of the complex, not the Senate side, because leadership in the upper chamber hasn’t brought back the mask mandates.
“If you are a Capitol police officer you got orders … if a vaccinated staffer comes across in the House side without a mask you’re ordered to arrest them, but not on the Senate side,” McCarthy said. “This is not the America we know.”
GOP Steve Scalise, R-La., and others claimed the police enforcement came directly from Pelosi.
“To be clear: Pelosi is directing police to ARREST vaccinated people who aren’t wearing masks,” Scalise tweeted. “This isn’t about science—it’s about power and control.”