WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy “a moron” for branding her new COVID-19 mask mandate unscientific — even though her move is not backed up by local orders or matched by the Senate across the Capitol.
“He’s such a moron,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a personal insult against her GOP counterpart.
Pelosi reimposed an indoor mask rule for House members on Wednesday, citing “science, science, science” — despite the local DC government not re-adopting a citywide indoor mask mandate pursuant to the CDC’s new guidelines.
McCarthy (R-Calif.) fired back at Pelosi: “If she’s so brilliant, can she tell me where science in the building changes between the House and the Senate?”
He added: “Can she explain to me when the CDC says only vaccinated people need to wear a mask in hotspots? Can she explain to me if DC is a hotspot when it’s clarified by everybody else it’s not?”
Pelosi refused to apologize during a press conference around noon Wednesday.
The Democratic leader’s personal attack on McCarthy (R-Calif.) was an unusual breach of Capitol Hill’s usual niceties. House members generally refer to each other as “my good friend,” even if they aren’t actually close.
Pelosi said that she was complying with the advice of the Capitol attending physician in making mask-wearing mandatory on the House side of the Capitol. She previously docked the pay of Republicans who refused to wear masks.
The CDC’s new indoor mask guidelines sparked confusion across DC on Tuesday — including at the White House, where Vice President Kamala Harris almost immediately put on a face covering and forced reporters and guests at an event to join her.
Local DC health officials say they are evaluating the new CDC guidelines. Although the city has a high rate of vaccination, the Delta variant of the virus has caused an uptick in cases, particularly in poorer areas on the outskirts of the capital, where authorities are attempting to incentivize shots with $51 Visa gift cards.
According to DC government data, an estimated 62.7 percent of DC residents have had at least one vaccine shot and 53.8 percent are fully vaccinated. The rates of vaccination are much higher among middle-age and senior citizen residents.
Fresh data on Tuesday afternoon showed DC crossing into the CDC’s “substantial” transmission bracket — meaning local officials should consider indoor mask rules under the new CDC guidelines — with a seven-day average of slightly more than 50 cases per 100,000 residents.