Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) suggested she will begin fining members of Congress who refuse to go through metal detectors on their way into work at least $5,000 each time they evade a search, per a statement the Speaker’s office released late Wednesday.
The United States Capitol installed the metal detectors just days after a violent mob attempted to overtake the building. The attack, which killed five people and wounded dozens more, resulted in more than 150 arrests so far, and more arrests — and more charges — are expected. Following the incident, Capitol Police and the Secret Service greatly increased security across the U.S. Capitol and its grounds, installing 7-foot deterrent fences, activating uniformed federal law enforcement, and installing a series of metal detectors at entrances.
Several Republican lawmakers challenged the security measures on Tuesday and Wednesday, in some cases pushing right past the metal detectors or challenging Capitol Police officers directly, refusing to allow law enforcement to search bags and briefcases.
Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO), who has already made headlines for challenging rules prohibiting members of Congress from being openly armed, got into the most public conflict; after something in her work bag set off the metal detectors, Boebert refused to allow Capitol Police to open her bag and search it, leading to a confrontation, according to local Colorado media.
“Several GOP lawmakers defiantly pushed past Capitol Police and sergeant-at-arms staff into the chamber without going through the magnetometers,” The Hill reports, noting that although Congress has had metal detectors before, the new security regulations prevent lawmakers from using their credentials to bypass security. “Members of Congress are typically given a pass on going through security in the Capitol complex if they show their lawmaker pins. But the new security measure went into effect Tuesday after last week’s attack on the Capitol by a violent mob in support of President Trump that tried to stop Congress from ratifying President-elect Joe Biden‘s Electoral College victory.”
Although it does not appear Pelosi can unilaterally enforce a new measure demanding lawmakers comply with new security protocols, on Wednesday evening, the Speaker threatened to use her power to press members of Congress through metal detectors.
— Mike DeBonis (@mikedebonis) January 14, 2021
“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 said in her memo, issued to all members of the House. “Sadly, just days later, 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 new measure will fine lawmakers who circumvent security $5,000 for the first incident and $10,000 for each additional incident. The metal detector fine works the same as a fine against lawmakers who refuse to wear a mask while on the House floor — a measure that is expected to pass by a vote this week. That measure would charge non-mask-wearers $500 for an initial infraction and $2500 for each additional infraction, to be paid from the member’s salary.
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