House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reprimanded the members of Congress for ignoring social distancing rules during an intervention where an objection to seating new House members of the 117 Congress was being resolved on the House floor.
Pelosi told lawmakers that pandemic health and safety guidelines must be adhered to on the House floor at all times.
“The unexpected intervention yesterday evening relating to not seating Members from states subject to an Electoral count challenge resulted in Members ignoring the Floor procedures that were established to keep Members safe,” Pelosi said in a statement Monday. “The intervention was not an invitation to gather on the Floor.”
The intervention was made necessary when Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) challenged the seating of newly elected representatives from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, where election results are contested.
After Roy objected, there was a span of about 12 minutes during which many members gathered in small groups, chatting with their masks and milling about on the House floor having side conversations.
Although all members were wearing a mask as they gathered in small groups and waited to reconvene, they were not socially distanced. The speaker made it clear that members are not to mill about on the floor but to leave during such times.
“As we go forward, please note with respect the guidance set forth by the Office of the Attending Physician and the Sergeant at Arms. When staff urge you to leave the Floor, it is not a suggestion. It is a direction, in the interest of keeping Congress healthy and intact.”
Roy explained the reason for his interrupting swearing-in proceedings Sunday. In a statement, he argued that if systemic voter fraud and abuse had impacted the results of the presidential election, then the congressional election results in those states should be subjected to the same amount of public scrutiny to ensure the legitimacy of the results.
His efforts to challenge the seating of 67 representatives were quickly thwarted after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) objected to Roy by offering a resolution to authorize House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to administer the oath to all House members. The resolution passed 371-2, with Roy also joining the vote to pass the resolution.
Meanwhile, GOP members criticized Pelosi for not following CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus guidelines when she is said to have coaxed Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) to travel to Washington on Jan. 3 to vote for the speaker of the House of Representatives despite recently testing positive for COVID-19.
Moore tested positive for the disease on Dec. 28; federal health guidance recommends quarantining for a minimum of seven days after a positive test result.
Republicans blamed Pelosi, who was vying for another term as House speaker, for Moore’s decision. Pelosi was reelected as speaker in a narrow 216-209 vote.
Pelosi’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Zachary Stieber and Janita Kan contributed to this report.