Congress Ramps Up Security Measures as House Votes for Fines for Metal Detector Non-Compliance

February 3, 2021 Updated: February 3, 2021

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday announced ramped up security measures for congressional members traveling to and from Washington, as the House voted to enact hefty fines for lawmakers who refuse to go through newly installed metal detectors at the Capitol.

Pelosi in a statement said the heightened security protection for congressional members is in response to the breach of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, which she described as “a traumatic assault targeting Members.”

Going forward, U.S. Capitol Police will be stationed at Baltimore/Washington International, Dulles International Airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Union Station as part of additional security protections, Pelosi said.

Congress should establish “a 9/11-type Commission to examine and report upon the facts, causes and security relating to the terrorist mob attack,” Pelosi said.

Speaker Pelosi
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) holds her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, on Jan. 28, 2021. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“The security of the U.S. Capitol Complex and all who serve and work in it is of the highest priority,” Pelosi wrote. “Protecting the Capitol, which is the heart of our Democracy, is essential to upholding our Constitutional duty to serve those whom we are privileged to represent.”

Simultaneously, Pelosi announced that lawmakers who refuse to comply with security checks at the Capitol will be hit with fines that will be deducted directly from their paychecks. Lawmakers will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second, she said.

The vote was 216-210 in favor of the new rule.

Metal detectors were set up outside the House chamber following last month’s breach of the Capitol. Some Republican lawmakers have expressed their displeasure about the new protocol and have been bypassing the metal detectors entirely or walking through and not stopping when they set them off.

“It is beyond comprehension why any member would refuse to adhere to these simple, commonsense steps to keep this body safe. It is sad that we have been forced to move forward with a rule change imposing fines on those who refuse to abide by these protections, but the People’s House must and will be safe, so that we can honor our responsibility to do the People’s work,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), the newly elected Republican who has affirmed that she plans to carry firearms on Capitol grounds, criticized the newly installed metal detectors last month, saying they are nothing more than “another political stunt.”

Lawmakers had previously been able to bypass security screening stations at most entrances to the House chamber.