The Republican leader made the remarks after a sizable gavel was handed over by members of the Tennessee congressional delegation while attending a fundraising event in the state. His remarks are the latest sign of his deteriorating relationship with the Democratic leader, who was not present at the event.
Pelosi’s spokesman and deputy chief of staff swiftly condemned the comments.
A spokesperson for McCarthy did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
The comments also drew backlash from several congressional Democrats.
California Representative Eric Swalwell went a step further and called for McCarthy’s resignation.
“What you’re doing is phenomenal,” McCarthy told Pelosi, according to a second source familiar with the call.
McCarthy questioned the science behind the speaker’s decision on the mask when asked about his remarks. “Well, if that’s so bright, I’d like to know where the science changes in the Capitol between the House and the Senate,” he said, referring to the different rules regarding masks between the two chambers.
CNN Melanie Zanona and Manu Raju contributed to this report.