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Newly elected members of Congress attend a briefing during orientation at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2020. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) on Tuesday called for lawmakers who repeatedly defy the House chamber mask requirement to be restricted from the House floor.

Why it matters: The demand comes amid a raft of new restrictions in the House aimed at combating the highly infectious Omicron variant, which has caused a surge of coronavirus cases.

  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is urging members to vote quickly, avoid congregating on the floor and wear KN95 masks rather than cloth or surgical masks.
  • In addition, the Capitol's administrative office has announced allotments of KN95s and at-home tests to House offices.

Driving the news: Just on Monday, the House Ethics Committee revealed Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.), Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) have all been slapped with fines for violating the mask mandate in late November and early December.

  • The fines are $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for each subsequent one, though some lawmakers have received first-offense warnings.
  • Greene and Clyde in particular have been outlaws when it comes to the rule. The two had reportedly incurred over $100,000 in combined penalties as of the end of last year.

What they're saying: Clark, the assistant House speaker, said in a letter to House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker that the fines "have proven insufficient to prevent some Members from repeatedly violating this common sense rule."

  • Singling out Clyde and Greene, Clark continued, "This callous disregard for House rules endangers the health of Members of Congress and ... staff whose physical presence is required to ensure continuity of government."
  • Clark asked Walker to force members who refuse to mask up on the floor to vote from "isolation boxes" placed in the gallery above the chamber.

The backdrop: The idea is not without precedent. The method was used last January to allow members who had been exposed to the virus to vote for speaker.

  • "Those who refuse to mask pose the same or higher risk of exposing individuals around them to COVID" as those members, Clark asserted in her letter.

Go deeper

Dems frustrated with Biden’s Omicron response

Reps. Tim Ryan and Elissa Slotkin. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call (left); Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Fed-up Democratic lawmakers are prodding the Biden administration to do more to contain COVID-19.

Why it matters: The outreach reflects building pressure from constituents left confused and wary by shifting and conflicting guidance — a black eye for an administration that ran on its competence.

House Democrats to combine 2 key bills in push for voting rights

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during a December news conference in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats the House Rules Committee was meeting Wednesday night to combine key provisions of two voting bills and pass the rule before sending it to the Senate for a vote.

Why it matters: Pelosi's announcement in a letter to Democrats comes a day after President Biden called for a change to the Senate's filibuster rules in an effort to pass voting rights legislation.

Updated 33 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.