House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants committee leaders in the House to bar any lawmaker who refuses to wear face masks from participating in committee hearings, a source told Fox News Tuesday.
A senior Democratic aide familiar with the issue said the California Democrat is urging these leaders to invoke their authority under Rule 11 to enforce rules of decorum. Her office did not immediately respond to an after-hours call from Fox News.
Pelosi has also asked the Congress’ Office of the Attending Physician to reassess the mask guidance due to the emerging body of evidence that shows its effectiveness in preventing the spread of coronavirus, the source said. The mask requirement is currently only for sustained committee activity in enclosed spaces but the physician has issued guidance to encourage masks.
The call for masks comes as new research published in the Physics of Fluids, notes that face coverings alone do not prevent droplets of fluid that are projected by a cough, a discovery the researchers called "alarming." It adds to the importance to also maintain proper social distancing measures, they said.
The same researchers found previously that droplets of saliva can travel 18 feet in five seconds when an unmasked person coughs, so masks are important. However, repeated coughs are likely to reduce their effectiveness, the experts found in the new study, using computer models.
Chief Administrative Officer Philip Kiko and Capitol physician Brian Monahan issued updated guidance on Monday, the Hill reported.
Any mask requirement would be enforced by the Sergeant at Arms and non-compliant members would be denied entry, the source said.