Democratic leaders unilaterally authorized the installation of metal detectors by the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) to block access to the floor of the House of Representatives, according to Republicans, who have strongly criticized the move.
“This is political correctness run amok,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) said in a statement emailed to reporters late on Jan. 12. “The threat is outside, not inside. Every resource used inside is one that can’t be used outside.”
Davis, who is the ranking Republican member of the House Committee on Administration that has oversight authority for the USCP, “remains concerned that many chamber security changes are being made at the direction of the majority, rather than in response to any real security concern,” according to the statement.
The statement also described a security briefing provided on Jan. 12 by House Sergeant-at-Arms Tim Blodgett, Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, and Acting U.S. Capitol Police Assistant Chief Sean Gallagher.
During the briefing, House Republicans were told the metal detectors were being installed, as well as other enhanced security measures being initiated, as a result of demonstrators forcibly breaching the Capitol building during a Jan. 6 protest.
Demonstrators entered the Senate and House chambers, damaged historic property, and, at one point, all but overwhelmed the USCP officers guarding the Capitol. Five deaths are being attributed by officials as a result of the riot, including that of USCP Officer Brian Sicknick and protestor Ashli Babbitt, a 14-year Air Force veteran who was shot by an officer. Demonstrators were seen sitting in the Speaker’s Chair after the chamber was evacuated by members.
The installation of the detectors prompted outrage among a number of House Republicans, including Davis, who reportedly shouted at House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), “You’re taking valuable resources completely away from where it needs to be, and you guys did it without any consultation with the minority.”
Other House Republicans expressed similar anger on Jan. 12, including newly elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).
“I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C. and within the Capitol complex,” she wrote on Twitter. “Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week—it’s just another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.”
In another tweet, Boebert said, “The fact is my concealed carry permit was issued by the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police.” Boebert is a vocal defender of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees “the right to keep and bear arms.”
Boebert declared shortly after her election that she planned to carry a firearm whenever she is in the nation’s capital, including on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and in the House chamber.
The installation of the detectors seemed at least partially aimed to prevent Boebert from being armed while performing her duties in the House chamber, as Blodgett told members that “failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber.”
Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) called the installation of the metal detectors “unconstitutional based on Article 1, Section 6” of the Constitution. “This should not stand. @GOPLeader with House Republicans must formally protest.”
The detectors are set up at some, but not all, of the entrances to the House chamber.
Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) wrote on Twitter that, “for members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!”
Lesko also wrote that “in this Democrat-controlled House, members of Congress are being fined for not wearing masks on the House floor, even when speaking and more than six feet away from anyone. It’s $500 for the first offense and $2500 for the second offense. This is outrageous!”
The strengthened requirement regarding the wearing of masks was included in the security briefing described in the statement made available to journalists on Jan. 12.
Since the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol building by protesters, four House members have tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the four are Democrats, who blamed Republicans for not wearing masks while sheltering in place with other legislators as authorities dealt with protesters.
Meanwhile, on Jan. 3, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) was present in the House chamber to vote to reelect Nancy Pelosi as speaker, before completing the recommended quarantine period after a positive COVID-19 test.
Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.com