U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) was directed to arrest visitors and staff members who refuse to wear a mask while in the House portion of the Capitol complex, a memo issued by USCP Chief Thomas Manger revealed Thursday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reimposed the mask mandate in the House this week after the Centers for Disease Control once again changed its position on masks, asserting even those who are vaccinated should cover up
According to the memo shared on Twitter by Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL), police were told not to arrest members of Congress who refuse or fail to wear a mask, but noted that the lawmakers should be reported to the House sergeant-at-arms if he or she “fails to comply.”
“In today’s edition of Pelosi’s abuse of power, Capitol Police have been directed to arrest staff and visitors to comply with her mask mandate for vaccinated individuals,” Cammack wrote on Twitter. “For Members, they advise not arresting but ‘reporting Members to SAA for their failure to comply.'”
Cammack told Fox News that she received the memo during Thursday’s roll call, adding that the police she’s spoken with are “very uncomfortable” with the order that Cammack called “tyrannical.”
“This is such an overstep of Speaker Pelosi’s authority to basically make our Capitol Police arrest staff members and report on members [of Congress],” Cammack said. “It’s absolutely unconscionable that this is where we’re at.”
Fox reported that Pelosi’s office denied she was behind the order, noting that it is not within her power.
“The speaker of the House does not control the U.S. Capitol Police,” Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told the news outlet. “We were unaware of the memo until it was reported in the press.”
Dozens of Republican lawmakers in Congress have fought back against the new mask mandate in the House. On Thursday, Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs shared a photo on Twitter of a large group of representatives who refused to comply.
“Today we sent a loud clear message to Pelosi. Her tyrannical rule is not welcomed in the people’s House!” Biggs wrote.
Capitol Police said the rule is identical to the previous masking rule in the House, and said there’s “no reason” an arrest should be required.
“Regarding the House rules about masks, there is no reason it should ever come to someone being arrested,” the USCP said in a statement to Fox News. “Anyone who does not follow the rules will be asked to wear a mask or leave the premises. The Department’s requirement for officers to wear masks is for their health and safety.”
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) highlighted that the mask mandate has not been reinstituted on the Senate side of the Capitol complex, so USCP can only arrest those without masks in the lower chamber.
“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.”