USCP Chief Thomas Manger issued a memo obtained by lawmakers Thursday saying police would arrest visitors and staff who refuse to wear a mask on the House side of the Capitol complex.
"Regarding the House mask mandate rule, there is no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested," the USCP tweeted. "Anyone who does not follow the rule will be asked to wear a mask or leave the premises. The Department's requirement to wear masks is for their health and safety."
Police were also advised not to arrest members of Congress for failing to wear masks but to report the lawmakers' noncompliance to the House sergeant-at-arms, the memo says. House members have been subject to fines starting at $500 for skirting mask rules.
A number of Republican lawmakers took issue with the new guidance. Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., took aim at Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calling the rule an "overstep" of her "authority to basically make our Capitol Police arrest staff members and report on members [of Congress]."
Republican North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy, M.D., similarly called the order an "infinite power grab" and "McCarthyism" in a video posted to Twitter.
Pelosi's office said she did not order police to begin arresting people because it's not within her power.
"The speaker of the House does not control the U.S. Capitol Police," Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told Fox News. "We were unaware of the memo until it was reported in the press."
GOP members huddled with Capitol Attending Physician Brian P. Monahan Wednesday at the Capitol to express their frustrations with the new mask guidance and to argue 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 contend it's a politically motivated mandate from Pelosi.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday issued new guidance, saying vaccinated people should wear masks indoors – recommendations that are likely to affect millions of Americans in the form of private and public mask mandates. But the agency has yet to release the data behind its decision.
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser also reimplemented the city's mask mandate for residents over 2 years old, despite the fact that there have been only two COVID-19 deaths in the last two weeks.
Fox News' Marisa Shultz and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.