Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., plans to introduce legislation Tuesday to impose a $1,000 fine on members who refuse to wear masks while in the U.S. Capitol complex.

The legislation would amend House rules to add that lawmakers are required to wear masks in the complex. If the Ethics committee “determines that any Member, Delegate or Resident Commissioner” is in violation, the committee “shall fine such individual $1,000 for each day that such violation occurs.”


Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., in July. Graeme Jennings/Pool via Associated Press

The proposed bill is set to be introduced after three Democratic lawmakers revealed that they have tested positive for the coronavirus after sheltering with other lawmakers, including some who refused to wear masks, during the lockdown at the U.S. Capitol last week.

“It is not brave to refuse to wear a mask, it is selfish, stupid, and shameful behavior that puts lives at risk,” Dingell said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Days ago, a colleague of ours died from this virus and left behind a beautiful, young family to mourn his loss. Yet still, in the midst of a deadly assault on our United States Capitol, a number of our Republican colleagues laughed off rules designed to keep not just their colleagues safe, but to protect the lives of the teams of workers keeping things going, law enforcement, and staff throughout the Capitol.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., announced late Monday night that she had tested positive, hours after Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), a 75-year-old cancer survivor, announced her diagnosis.

The announcements from Jayapal and Watson Coleman came after the attending physician to Congress warned lawmakers over the weekend that those who sheltered in a large committee room together as rioters stormed the Capitol may have been exposed to someone with the virus.

A third lawmaker, Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said Tuesday morning that he, too, had tested positive after spending “several hours in a secure but confined location with dozens of other Members of Congress.”

“We can no longer tolerate members coming to the floor or gathering in the halls of Congress without doing the bare minimum to protect those around them,” Schneider said in a statement.

In her Monday statement, Jayapal said she was “also calling for serious fines to be immediately levied on every single Member who refuses to wear a mask in the Capitol.”

Dingell’s legislation would require mask-wearing in the Capitol complex until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suspends its recommendations for wearing masks inside buildings.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: