Two Republican congressmen were slapped with $5,000 fines this week after they were accused of skipping out on new security screenings when entering the House chamber.
Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Congressman Andrew Clyde (R-GA) appear to be the first two lawmakers to face fines under the new measures, which were enacted on Tuesday following a party-line vote in the House, according to The Washington Post.
Gohmert, who has served in Congress since 2005, released a statement Friday saying that he has been complying with the metal detector requirements and that he was only receiving the fine because he left briefly to go to the bathroom in the Speaker’s lobby.
“At no time until yesterday did anyone mention the need to be wanded after entering the restroom directly in front of the guards. The three main entrances have metal detectors, but the House floor entrance from the Speakers’ Lobby does not. Originally I had gone around the metal detectors a few times until it was mandated,” said Gohmert. “I explained to the Capitol Police officer that I had never been required to be screened again from the restroom immediately by the House floor since the metal detectors had been in place at the other doors. I said they had witnessed me walk the few feet to the men’s room, enter and take the few steps back. No one ever mentioned or made that a requirement until yesterday.”
“Unlike in the movie The Godfather, there are no toilets with tanks where one could hide a gun, so my reentry onto the House floor should have been a non-issue,” he added.
Clyde, a first-term congressman, told Laura Ingraham in a Fox News interview Friday that the security measures were a Constitutional issue: “Those metal detectors are there to detain us, and that’s a violation of Article 1 Section 6 of the Constitution,” he said.
“We’re going to the House floor to vote, we represent 700,000 people in our districts, and the Constitution says that we cannot be impeded when we go to the floor to vote, and those metal detectors are unconstitutional,” said the Georgia congressman.
Clyde also vowed to fight the $5,000 fine, then appeal it, and then take it to court on Constitutional grounds. “We’re all set up to do that, but I had to have standing, Laura,” said Clyde, suggesting that he broke the rule on purpose in order to lobby a court challenge.
Back in mid-January, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced the House would vote on new rules that would enact a $5,000 fine for entering the House chamber without going through security screenings in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. Every Republican lawmaker who was present voted against it, according to Axios. It still passed 216-210.
Should any member of Congress break the rule a second time, they would face a $10,000 fine. Fines will be deducted from a member’s salary automatically, per the rule.
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