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Monday, January 18, 2021

House Installs Metal Detectors to Screen Lawmakers After Capitol Breach

U.S. House of Representatives lawmakers will now be screened by newly installed metal detectors when entering the House chamber in the Capitol, the acting House sergeant-at-arms said in a memo to lawmakers on Jan. 12.

Timothy Blodgett said that the security policy shift will apply to everyone seeking to enter the House chamber and that it will go into effect immediately.

“To ensure compliance with Capitol Police Board regulations concerning firearms and incendiary devices, as well as to provide a safe and secure environment in which to conduct legislative business, effective immediately, all persons, including Members, are required [to] undergo security screening when entering the House chamber,” Blodgett wrote.

The memo said magnetometers are being placed at selected entrances to the chamber. It also reminded lawmakers that firearms are restricted to their offices, pursuant to a 1967 regulation.

“Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber,” Blodgett added.

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

Beginning 6 p.m. Tuesday, the new screening process will also apply to journalists who enter the chamber. It will remain in effect “every day the House is in session for the foreseeable future.”

The new security measure comes less than a week after the breach of the U.S. Capitol building, which disrupted debates in both the House and Senate as lawmakers were forced to shelter in place while police and security attempted to seize back control.

Some critics have said President Donald Trump, during a lunchtime Jan. 6 rally near the Capitol, incited violence—despite the president saying that the protesters should protest “peacefully and patriotically.”

Acts of violence and lawlessness transpired as some rioters and protesters decided to unlawfully enter the Capitol building as the majority of Trump supporters rallied outside.

Following the outbreak of violence, Trump took to Twitter to call on protesters to “go home in peace.” He denounced the violence as a “heinous attack” that “defiled the seat of American democracy” on Jan. 7.

“This new requirement is being imposed on everyone entering the House Chamber, including members of the House,” a notice to journalists who use the House Daily Press Gallery said. “We understand this is being done at the request of the lawmakers themselves to ensure their safety after last Wednesday’s attack.”

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has called on the Department of Homeland Security to increase security measures ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20. She has also urged Americans to avoid the city during the inauguration.

The National Guard confirmed Monday that up to 15,000 troops will be authorized to be deployed around the nation’s capital ahead of inauguration day.



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