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.
Other House Republicans expressed similar anger on Jan. 12, including newly elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).
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.”
The detectors are set up at some, but not all, of the entrances to the House chamber.
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.