Officials in the nation’s capital are facing backlash after they called for “permanent fencing” to go up around the U.S. Capitol Building in response to the riot that broke out earlier this month.
Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said on Thursday that she had ordered the department to “conduct a physical security assessment of the entire Capitol Complex,” which led her to the conclusion that the fencing, which was supposed to be temporary, needed to be made permanent.
“As I noted earlier this week, even before September 11, 2001, security experts argued that more needed to be done to protect the U.S. Capitol,” she wrote. “In fact, a 2006 security assessment specifically recommended the installation of a permanent perimeter fence around the Capitol.”
“In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” she continued. “I look forward to working with Congress on identifying the security improvements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Congress and the U.S. Capitol.”
The permanent fencing and other measures would need to be approved “by the Capitol Police Board, which includes the Senate and House sergeants-at-arms as well as the architect of the Capitol,” The Washington Post reported. “Appropriations for large sums of money, such as a bill to permanently fortify the Capitol, would also need approval by the House and Senate.”
The move comes as Democrat President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order on his first day in office that canceled ongoing construction of the border wall on the southern border, which was being built to put a dent in illegal immigration and trafficking activities along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Then-Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told reporters earlier this month that halting construction of the border wall could cost taxpayers a significant sum of money.
“It’ll cost taxpayers billions of dollars, billions of dollars in settlement fees,” he said. “We’re going to walk away from areas of the wall that have already been constructed. There are going to be some areas where, let’s say we’ve already started to dig a trench and put some rebar in there, we’re actually going to have to stop and pay extra to have them remove the rebar and fill in the trench.”
The idea of putting up permanent fencing around the Capitol was criticized by the vast majority of those who weighed in on the issue online.
Security measures are never rolled back — not the closure of Penn Ave by the White House, not the closure of East & West Executive Avenues or Madison & Jackson Places, not the second layer of fencing outside the existing WH fence. https://t.co/gmnF1EoB4U
— Mark Krikorian (@MarkSKrikorian) January 28, 2021
The same week the southern border emergency and fence was cancelled by Presidential executive order https://t.co/4yEb5VbuEW
— Alex Plitsas 🇺🇸 (@alexplitsas) January 28, 2021
Biden's America? https://t.co/HNfsrkomJu
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) January 28, 2021
We should really consider putting one of these on our southern border https://t.co/ofuraa7pjk
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) January 28, 2021
Law enforcement needs to decide whether the threat is an insurgency or a terrorist attack.
I would suggest the threat is terrorism.
But most of the countermeasures since January 6th have been for an insurgency. https://t.co/9VuXf3uMc5
— Max Abrahms (@MaxAbrahms) January 28, 2021
This is outrageous. https://t.co/syOoqbHo2G
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) January 28, 2021
The current Administration and Congress should be laser-focused on tearing walls down, both literally and figuratively.
— robneyer ⚾️🧗♂️🦉🗽 (@robneyer) January 28, 2021
As expected, the new Green Zone in DC has become permanent.
We might see another exclusion zone for the HQs of hedge funds and investment banks in the not too distant future too. https://t.co/MMGFbLaVkC
— John Robb (@johnrobb) January 28, 2021
After 220 years without a permanent fence … https://t.co/9iOG2hM7HR
— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) January 28, 2021
I remember when I first moved to DC walking my dog to the Capitol building and being blown away by how cool it was and how close I could get. We'd let her run around the open lawns and sniff at the trees.
This is so depressing. https://t.co/tMFt6h407f
— Paige Osburn (@PaigeOsburn) January 28, 2021
It's unfortunate how things got to this point. https://t.co/t2ny4XJUoc
— Dana Afana (@DanaAfana) January 28, 2021
This ain't it https://t.co/WXn9bywXl0
— Amanda Kolson Hurley (@amandakhurley) January 28, 2021
— Sonny Bunch (@SonnyBunch) January 28, 2021
In my adult lifetime we've gone from pretty much open access to the Capitol to this. Same with the White House. Used to be able to go right up the fence on Pennsylvania Avenue. All prudent and necessary, but still sad. https://t.co/R6BmusTB8V
— Philip Klinkner (@pklinkne) January 28, 2021
This is a terrible idea. https://t.co/ejiRzirMbs
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 28, 2021
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she had met with Lieutenant General (ret) Russel Honoré to discuss a security assessment of the Capitol Complex that she had tasked him with conducting.
“Following the devastating attack on the Capitol that threatened the lives of and traumatized Members of Congress, staff and support workers, I asked Lieutenant General Russel Honoré to lead an immediate review of the security of the Capitol Complex,” Pelosi said. “I salute the urgent, diligent and strategic work that he and his team continue to do in this mission, which is critical to protecting the Capitol and, indeed, our very Democracy. I was pleased to be briefed on the General’s initial assessment which covered operational readiness, interagency cooperation, security infrastructure and the morale and readiness of institutional staff. As we consider the need for an emergency supplemental funding bill to meet institutional security needs, I want to thank the General for reviewing what is necessary for the Capitol Police to do their jobs.”