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Iowa U.S. Rep. Miller-Meeks fined for refusing to wear mask on House floor

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Iowa U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks has started fundraising off her recent fine for not wearing a mask on the House floor.

"I am going to follow the science. NOT Nancy Pelosi!" Miller-Meeks tweeted Wednesday with a link to donate to her campaign.

Miller-Meeks and Reps. Brian Mast, R-Fla., and Beth Van Duyne, T-Texas, will each have $500 docked from their congressional salary for breaking the mask rule on the House floor for a second time, the Washington Post and other media outlets reported late Tuesday.

Miller-Meeks, a licensed physician, retired Army nurse and former director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, took to the House floor last week to urge "a return to normal," and that the House lift the mask mandate following updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that fully vaccinated people could safely forgo face coverings in most situations.

"The Congresswoman has been fully vaccinated for months, has administered COVID-19 vaccines to her constituents, and has strongly encouraged everyone to get a vaccine," Miller-Meeks spokesman Will Kiley responded in an email Wednesday. "The new CDC guidelines say fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks indoors. The Congresswoman is following the science, and the House should do the same."

The CDC guidance states fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.

"As Members of Congress, we should not only encourage constituents to get vaccinated, we should be showing them what a ‘return to normal’ looks like and follow the science," Miller-Meeks said in remarks prepared for deliver on the House floor on May 14, the day after the CDC issued it's new mask guidance. 

"According to the Speaker, roughly 75% of our members have received COVID-19 vaccination, and therefore should have the choice to go without masks," she said. "Americans are looking for hope, and we are not showing it. ... Even the New York Times said the ‘CDC is finally catching up to the science’ and so should the House. We must be the leaders we were elected to be, follow the science, and have the choice to go without a mask."

In a memo sent to House members Monday, CNN reported the Office of the Attending Physician wrote: "Extra precautions are necessary given the substantial number of partially vaccinated, unvaccinated, and vaccine-indeterminate individuals."

"These measure allow for all participants to be treated in the same fashion without displaying any unique identification feature that would separate individuals based on their vaccination or health status," the letter read.

Several other House Republicans have received first-offense warnings from the House Sergeant at Arms for not following the House mask rule, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.

A second violation is subject to a fine of $500 and considered the first offense. Subsequent offenses can result in a $2,500 fine.

Lawmakers can remove their mask when speaking on the House floor, but otherwise must keep it on when they are in the chamber.

The Republican Party of Iowa on Wednesday issued a press release taking Democratic House leadership to task for fining Miller-Meeks, noting her medical background and efforts to encourage reluctant Americans, including many conservatives, to get vaccinated.

Miller-Meeks appeared in a series of public service announcements alongside a group of other GOP lawmakers who are also physicians to encourage Americans to get immunized. Some of the message seeks to appeal specifically to Republicans, pointing to the greater freedom that people can have once they are inoculated.

"Congresswoman Miller-Meeks has been a workhorse when it comes to promoting and encouraging Iowans to get vaccinated and fight the pandemic. She knows the science," Republican Party of Iowa Communications Director Kollin Crompton said in a statement. "Americans are sick of (House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi's political pandemic theater and stunts."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this article

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