House Democrats are raising concerns about Capitol security after House Republicans scaled back safeguards put in place after Jan. 6.
The renewed focus on Capitol security comes ahead of President Biden’s State of the Union address, when nearly all members of Congress, Biden’s cabinet and the Supreme Court will be packed into the House chamber.
More than a dozen House Democrats penned a letter to congressional leadership on Wednesday expressing “urgent concern for the safety and security of the President, other dignitaries, and guests at the upcoming State of the Union[.]”
“The GOP House Majority’s new rules have made the safety and security of the House Chamber … at risk to infiltration and violence with reckless changes to necessary preventative measures,” they wrote. It cites Jan. 6 and, more recently, Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) sending inert grenades to colleagues as evidence that “the House is vulnerable to multiple fronts of attacks both from inside and outside Congress.”
The letter requests information on what steps leadership and Capitol security officials are taking to protect State of the Union attendees.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), asked about State of the Union security, told Axios, “I haven’t had a briefing on that” but said he would include Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in the planning.
Mills also defended sending what he described as “inert paperweights” to colleagues, saying he got permission from law enforcement including the Capitol Police’s bomb squad: “There was not a single [step in the] process that didn’t, in some way, get checked off.”
Republicans, upon taking the majority last month, allowed metal detectors set up outside the House chamber after Jan. 6 to be taken down.