Expanding security to additional members of Congress and relatives could be a good idea after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was attacked inside their home in California on Oct. 28, according to some lawmakers.
“I understand that the speaker has a detail but we really need, at least for the leadership, to have Capitol Police at the residences like we do for Supreme Court justices,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said on CNN.
Khanna said he was surprised to learn that no U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers were at the Pelosi residence when a male suspect entered early Friday.
The USCP said that Nancy Pelosi was in Washington with her protective detail at the time of the attack.
Providing security can’t happen for every member of Congress, Khanna said.
“But certainly for the leadership—who are high-profile—you can do that,” he said. “And if there are some members of Congress who have threats, and unfortunately some of my colleagues do, they need better protection.”
Some congressional leaders receive security but their families and residences aren’t covered at present.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said that “it cannot be solely the members’ and elected officials’ responsibility to provide for their families security.”
“We need more ways to protect members and their families,” Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) told Axios.
The House’s sergeant-at-arms reportedly said over the summer it would pay for security system equipment at the homes of members, but capped the scheme at $10,000 per member. The sergeant-at-arms also offered to provide up to $150 a month for ongoing costs.
The announcement came after a man was arrested with a gun outside the home of Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and another man attacked Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) during a campaign event.
Some members pay for private security—including multiple lawmakers who have supported cutting funding to police agencies.
The shooting of Republican members at a baseball field in Virginia in 2017, which was determined to be politically motivated, “marked an accelerated rate of both threats and acts of violence directed toward the Congress,” USCP Police Chief Thomas Manger told a congressional committee this year.
Nearly 9,700 threats were recorded in 2021, more than double the number in 2017.
“The biggest challenge I think we have is keeping up with the number of threats. We’ve doubled the number of officers that investigate these threats, agents that investigate these threats, and if they continue to go up the way they have clearly we are going to need additional officers to assign to this responsibility,” Manger said.
The USCP received increased funding for fiscal year 2023 in part to provide additional “threat based” protective details for members. Manger also said that USCP works with local officers when members return to their home districts to try to ensure the safety and security of lawmakers.