House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) wants lawmakers be heavily fined if they refuse to follow new security measures that include passing through metal detectors before gaining entry to the House chamber in the aftermath of last week’s deadly attack on the US Capitol.
Pelosi issued a statement, first reported by The New York Times, on Wednesday amid gripes from Republican lawmakers saying that the metal detectors were necessary to ensure safety following efforts by a violent pro-Trump mob to stage an insurrection at the Capitol last week that left five people dead.
“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,” Pelosi said in the statement. “It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the chamber of the People’s House must and will be safe.”
Pelosi said that the House would vote on a rule change that would fine first offenders who ignore the security screening $5,000, a number that would be doubled upon second offense. The fines for refusing to follow the protocol would be collected from members’ salaries, Pelosi said.
A number of Republicans had reportedly set off the metal detectors outside the House chamber before walking onto the floor on Wednesday. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) called the effort a “political stunt” in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack that forced lawmakers to shelter in place under their desks as Trump’s supporters stormed the building.
“Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week — it’s just another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi,” Boebert tweeted on Wednesday night.
The freshman lawmaker asserted that the law allowed her to carry a firearm in Washington and within the Capitol complex — although acting sergeant-at-arms clarified that this wasn’t entirely true, noting in a statement that firearms are restricted to a member’s office.
The statement from the sergeant-at-arms, which preceded Pelosi’s call for fines, declared that all people, including lawmakers, were required to adhere to the new security protocol when entering the House chamber “to provide a safe and secure environment in which to conduct legislative business.”
The security furor comes as federal watch dogs announced investigations into the Capitol attack last week, including one looking at the potential involvement of Republican legislators.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) tweeted that the bloody episode last week had left her fearing for her life and wary of her colleagues in Congress.
She said during an Instagram Live video on Tuesday that during an evacuation she “did not even feel safe” reaching an extraction point “because there were QAnon and white supremacist sympathizers and frankly white supremacist members of Congress in that extraction point,” who she feared would disclose her location and allow her to be injured.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) had also shared concerns over GOP colleagues making a shocking accusation against some of them and their potential involvement in the insurrection late Tuesday night.
Read Pelosi’s full statement below:
Pelosi Statement Announcing Rule Change Mandating Fines for Refusing to Follow New Chamber Security Screening Protocols
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi today announced that, when returning to session on January 21, the House will vote on a rule change mandating fines for Members who refuse to follow new screening protocols for House Chamber:
“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.
“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 House will soon move forward with a rule change imposing fines on those who refuse to abide by these protections. The fine for the first offense will be $5,000 and $10,000 for the second offense. The fines will be deducted directly from Members’ salaries by the Chief Administrative Officer.
“It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People’s House must and will be safe.”