President Joe Biden is set to defy Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s congressional mask mandate on Wednesday night as he plans to go maskless during his speech to a joint session of Congress on the House floor, according to the White House.
Pelosi (D., Calif.) enacted a rule late last year requiring members to wear masks at all times on the House floor, even while speaking to the chamber.
While Biden is not bound by the rule because he is not a House member, his decision could be perceived as a direct snub against the policies instituted by his own party.
"Masks will now be required at all times in the hall of the House without exception," Pelosi announced on Dec. 15, 2020. "Members will not be recognized unless they are wearing a mask and recognition will be withdrawn if they remove the mask while speaking."
Biden plans to remove his mask during his address, the White House told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
"White House aides said Mr. Biden will wear a mask when he walks into the chamber and remove it before he begins his remarks, as he has in speeches during the pandemic," the Journal reported.
A senior Democratic congressional aide told the Washington Free Beacon that Biden is not subject to the rules because he’s not a member, and noted that former vice president Mike Pence "didn’t wear a mask while speaking when he presided in the Chamber on January 6th," even though the rule had gone into effect two days prior.
"The mask rule applies to Members of Congress only," said the aide.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Pelosi has been firm about enforcing the mask requirement. In January, House Democrats imposed a $500 fine against members who violate the mandate, and a $2,500 fine against second offenders.
Dr. Richard Harambe, associate professor of geriatric studies at the University of Alaska-Aleutian Islands and the Free Beacon‘s in-house public health expert, warned that Biden's reckless behavior could endanger the lives of the elderly politicians in attendance.
"Members of Congress are, generally speaking, among the oldest and unhealthiest members of society, and really shouldn't be allowed in public due to the extreme risk of dying," Harambe told the Free Beacon. "Nancy Pelosi is 81 years old, for crying out loud. If she believed in science, and doesn't want blood on her hands, she'd insist that even the President of the United States has to follow the rules."
Note: Dr. Harambe has no actual medical license.