After lawmakers scoffed at new metal detectors installed at the entrances to the House chamber, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Congress will impose fines on members “who refuse to abide” by the new security protocols.
“On behalf of the House, I express my deepest gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police for the valor that they showed during the deadly insurrection on the Capitol, as they protected the lives of the staff and the Congress,” Pelosi wrote in a statement Wednesday night. “Many House Republicans have disrespected our heroes by verbally abusing them and refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our Congressional community, including the Capitol Police, safe. The House will soon move forward with a rule change imposing fines on those who refuse to abide by these protections.”
A fine for a first offense will be $5,000. Additional offenses jump to $10,000.
“It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People’s House must and will be safe,” Pelosi wrote.
Republican lawmakers were roiled by new metal detectors installed after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol that left five dead. Texas Rep. Chip Roy called the detectors “unnecessary” and “unconstitutional,” saying that he “will not comply in the future.”
“She’s trying to say Republican members of Congress can’t be trusted. It’s a nasty, partisan message and would violate the Constitution if they actually tried to stop us,” Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie told the Washington Examiner.
“Article 1, Section 6 of the U.S. Constitution contains specific language prohibiting Members of Congress from being impeded on the way to a session of the House or to a vote. This is harassment. We need protection from the Speaker, not each other,” Texas GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert said in a statement after he reportedly told police he could not be stopped from walking around the scanners and did so.
Some lawmakers, including Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, were seen walking around the metal detectors.