Republicans Are Pushing For Congress To Lift COVID Precautions

House Minority Leader McCarthy says 75% of members are vaccinated, but Speaker Pelosi wants to reach 100% before getting back to normal.

Republicans Are Pushing For Congress To Lift COVID Precautions
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

As more Americans and lawmakers get the coronavirus vaccine, Republicans in Congress are calling for a return to normal.

"I think we should change the duration of the votes. I think the proxies should end. I think we should go back to working in committee," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy.

The House of Representatives has been operating under special rules because of the ongoing pandemic. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is pushing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring those changes to an end. 

"Every single day, the percentage goes higher for who's vaccinated on the floor. Why can the Senate, when they speak with [no one] around, not wear a mask? Why can the CDC now tell us as a family unit we can come together without a mask, but you can't do that on the floor of the House, even though more of us are vaccinated than probably the majority of the United States?" said McCarthy

According to McCarthy, about 75% of House members have been vaccinated, but Dr. Amesh Adalja says there's more to consider.

"Seventy-five percent is a high number within a given group. However, it's not just members of Congress that are on the chamber floor. There are other people there as well. So I suspect that you probably won't see guidance change for the House chamber until we get further along in terms of vaccination," said Adalja, a senior scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an infectious disease, critical care and emergency medicine physician.

Some lawmakers have chosen not to get the COVID-19 vaccine yet. Rep. Brian Mast from Florida said he wants to make sure his constituents get vaccinated first. Others, like Sen. Rand Paul, say they don't need the vaccine because they had the disease. And in a Senate committee hearing Thursday, Paul argued he shouldn't even need to wear a mask.

"You should be saying there is no science to say we're going to have a problem from the large number of people who have been vaccinated. You want to get rid of vaccine hesitancy, tell them to quit wearing a mask after they get the vaccine. You want people to get the vaccine? Give them a reward instead of telling them the nanny state is going to be there for three more years and you got to wear a mask forever. People don't want to hear it. There's no science behind it," said Paul.

"Well, let me just state for the record that masks are not theater, masks are protective," said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

But Dr. Adalja says people who had coronavirus more than 90 days ago should still get vaccinated as soon as it's available. 

"They have likely have some level of immunity left, but we know that it will wane over time and that there is some risk for reinfection, especially as you get into older age groups."

Speaker Pelosi said Friday she wants to see every member vaccinated before removing coronavirus precautions like masks and social distancing. 

"COVID is the villain. COVID is the villain to our economy. Unless we crush the virus, we're never going to get our economy back. COVID is the villain here and unless everyone is vaccinated, masks wearing, honor separation and the rest, we'll still be at the mercy of that," said Pelosi.