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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Security Measures at Capitol Following Breach Stir Political Reaction

In the aftermath of some Trump supporters breaching the Capitol last week, new security measures have been put in place, causing complaints from some lawmakers.

House members are now required to go through metal detectors, according to an announcement from the acting sergeant-at-arms less than one week after the event.

Five people died in the attack — one female President Donald Trump supporter, a Capitol Police Officer, and three other Trump supporters who authorities said died from “medical emergencies” unrelated to the unrest.

“Effective immediately, all persons, including Members, are required [to] undergo security screening when entering the House Chamber,” acting Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett wrote in the announcement.

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Blodgett also told lawmakers that they have to wear masks and that they face removal from the chamber if they fail to wear one.

The Boston Globe reported on the reaction to the change:

House lawmakers are now required to go through a metal detector security screening before being allowed to enter the chamber — a precautionary measure that galled several Republicans Tuesday, some of whom uttered obscenities or ignored the devices, claiming they were impeding them from voting.

Previously, members of Congress had almost free roam at the Capitol, able to bypass security screening stations at most entrances to the building. At the House chamber, there have been Capitol Police officers and civilian door monitors but no screening stations.

The Globe reported on freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who is outspoken about the importance of the Second Amendment.

The media outlet said Boebert’s purse set off an alarm, but she refused to have her bag searched and eventually was allowed to enter the House chamber. 

“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,” Boebert said.

“Suck it up buttercups,” Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) said in response. “Y’all brought this on yourselves.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) also complained, according to the report, and said lawmakers “now live in [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi’s communist America.”

“For members of Congress to enter the floor of the House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through,” Lesko said. “These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals.”

Some GOP lawmakers, such as Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, complained to CNN correspondent Manu Raju that the situation is “untenable” because it “impedes the ability of members to come and vote.”

And at least one Republican sees the new rules as a sign of the times, according to a tweet from Washington Post reporter Mike DeBonis:

@RepGregSteube sees metal detectors outside the House chamber, says Joe Biden’s going to take your guns. “Take note, America. This is what you have to look forward to. … If they can do it right here in the people’s house, they will attempt to do it across the country.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said the new protocol shows that as a country “we’re in a really dark place.”

“I’m not joking — when you talk about the fall of the Soviet Union, what did they start to do?” Nunes said. “They started to crack down. They started to crack down on people. That’s what you see here.”

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter or send news tips to [email protected]


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