House lawmakers will now be required to pass through metal detectors to enter the Chamber following last week’s siege on the U.S. Capitol building by the president’s supporters.
“Effective immediately, all persons, including Members, are required [to] undergo security screening when entering the House Chamber,” Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett said in a memo on Tuesday. “Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber.”
The metal detectors were installed less than a week after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building on Wednesday in protest to lawmakers certifying electoral votes stating President-elect Joe Biden had won November’s election. At least five people died in connection to the siege, including a Capitol police officer who was physically confronted by protesters and a woman who was shot by an officer after having breached the building.
The memo from Blodgett also states lawmakers who carry weapons must keep them in their personal offices.
Grace Meng, a New York House Democrat, said the metal detectors won’t do much to prevent a future riot “but it’s actually to help protect us from our own colleagues.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., responded to the new measure with a question on Twitter.
“Are you kidding me?”
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, who appeared in a campaign video carrying a gun around the Capitol, said in a statement to CNN that the installation of metal detectors is a “political stunt” that “does nothing to improve the safety of Members in the Capitol complex.”
“It’s a shame that Nancy Pelosi is trying to disarm Members of Congress in the very place that needed more protection on Jan. 6,” she said. “It is clear metal detectors would not have deterred the violent acts we saw.”
Firearms are prohibited in Washington, D.C., and on U.S. Capitol grounds even with a carry permit though law enforcement officers may be admitted into Capitol buildings with a firearm if they are “engaged in the performance of their official duties and meet certain established criteria,” the U.S. Capitol Police website said.
Earlier this month, new House rules were unveiled that maintained the lawmakers’ exemption from the gun prohibition.
Twenty-one Democrats in December had sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., asking her to bar members of Congress from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds as “the current regulations create needless risk.”
Boebert responded with a letter signed by 82 Congress members, stating, “if Members can’t carry on Capitol grounds, they can’t protect themselves in D.C. while making their way to and from their offices to perform their official duties.”
The memo from Blodgett also makes mask wearing in the Chamber mandatory after several lawmakers contracted COVID-19 after sheltering in close confines with Republican colleagues who refused to abide by the health precaution.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who announced Monday that she contracted COVID-19 after sheltering with maskless lawmakers during the siege, has called for those who refuse to wear masks in the Capitol to be fined and removed by the sergeant at arms.
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