The House of Representatives voted in a major security upgrade on Wednesday, including a new $5,000-per-incident fine for bypassing metal detectors now stationed at the entrance to House chambers.
The fine, first proposed weeks ago by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is designed to prevent confrontations like the ones that took place in early January when select Republicans refused to open their briefcases for security or pass through metal detectors before heading to work.
Pelosi and others demanded that the GOP comply with the new security measures in order to prevent a repeat of January 6th, when rioters, who stormed the Capitol seeking to disrupt a vote certifying the results of the Electoral College and officially declaring Joe Biden the winner of the November presidential election, got within feet of select lawmakers and then-Vice President Mike Pence.
“The rule gives the Sergeant-at-Arms the authority to fine lawmakers $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 on a second if the legislators do not complete the security screening to enter the house, which includes walking through a metal detector,” USA Today reported Wednesday. “The new metal detectors were put at the House Chamber’s entrance in the wake of the mob that stormed the Capitol, incited by former President Donald Trump. However, some Republican members openly ignored and balked at the screening in the days that followed.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) was previously the most vocal critic of the new metal detectors; she has been pressing for the ability to open carry a personal weapon on the House floor, citing her own need to protect herself.
Boebert pointed out, after the incident, that metal detectors would have done little to stop the Capitol incursion.
“It is a shame that Nancy Pelosi is trying to disarm Members of Congress in the very place that needed more protection on January 6,” she noted. “It is clear metal detectors would not have deterred the violent acts we saw; this political stunt does nothing to improve the safety of Members in the Capitol complex.”
The rule change also comes after 30 members of the House, Republicans and Democrats, claimed in an official letter to House leadership, that they were “targets” of right-wing violence, and demanded heightened security protection, both in Washington, D.C., and in their home districts, according to CBS News.
“Protecting Members in their District is much harder because local law enforcement agencies are stretched and limited, and often don’t have sufficient staffing or money to provide regular protection to Members,” the group wrote. “Except for Leadership, Members do not have security details protecting them. The structure of the Capitol Police and the laws against threatening Members of Congress were first crafted in a much different time when the threat environment was significantly lower.”
“The increased level of threats has overwhelmed the Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section,” the group continued. “Today, with the expansion of the web and social media sites, so much information about Members is accessible in the public sphere, making them easier targets, including home addresses, photos, personal details about Members’ families, and real-time information on Member attendance at events. Current legal statutes make it extremely difficult to prosecute most threats made against Members of Congress.”