Once a year — every year since 1790 — the president of the United States has delivered a message on the state of the union.
From 1801 to 1913, though, that message was delivered in writing. But since then, the president has almost exclusively traveled to the U.S. Capitol to deliver the message in person.
It’s a pointless — and partisan — exercise. The president claims credit for everything good going on in the country, blames the opposing party for all the woes, and then delivers a laundry of all the things he wants to do in the future (most of which never get done).
Maybe it’s time we go back to a written message. On Tuesday, the annual event cost nearly a million dollars just to erect a fence to protect the Capitol (and much more when you factor in the salaries of all the law enforcement and security officials needed). Authorities have been spooked ever since January 6, 2021, when rioters swooped into the building and ran wild for hours, so they put up the fence.
But the architect of the U.S. Capitol (AOC) — that’s a federal agency responsible for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the complex — said there was really no reason to erect the barrier.
Brett Blanton, the current Capitol architect, told the House Committee on House Administration on Thursday that there were no threats ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, but House and Senate officials still opted to erect the fence.
“It’s going to be cheaper to put the fence up and have less people,” he told the subcommittee, according to the Washington Examiner. Blanton said it cost $872,000 to put the fence up and take it back down, a cost borne by the U.S. Secret Service.
Rep. Laurel Lee (R-FL) asked Blanton why the fence was erected if there were no threats. “That is correct, and also on January 6 there was no specific threat as well,” he pointed out.
Blanton wasn’t at the Capitol on January 6, telling the committee, “There was no actionable intelligence that there was going to be anything here that was presented to the Capitol Police Board.”
Some lawmakers were furious he wasn’t on site that day.
“I’m outraged that you would be in a comfortable place, sir, while the rest of us were thinking about dying that day and how we were going to come out alive that day,” Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA) told Blanton. “Outrageous that you were not here.”
“I find it mind-blowing that the head of the AOC, the leader, knowing what you knew — probably a lot more than we did that day — would not have been in this building ensuring the safety and security not only of the building but of the employees that you lead,” echoed Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK).
That statement perked up the ears of Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI), chairman of the committee that oversees the police and architect’s office. He told lawmakers he would examine whether there was “actionable intelligence” before the January 6 riots.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.