House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that lawmakers will likely need to pass legislation to provide better security for themselves amid heightened concerns that they may be violently attacked ― possibly by one of their own colleagues.
“We will probably need a supplemental [spending bill] for more security for members when the enemy is within the House, a threat that members are concerned about in addition to what is happening outside,” she said during her weekly press conference.
Asked to clarify what she meant by “the enemy is within,” Pelosi didn’t mince words.
“It means that we have members of Congress who want to bring guns to the [House] floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress,” she said.
Hours earlier, more than 30 lawmakers had written to her and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) asking if they can use their congressional allowances to hire security personnel to protect themselves at home. The letter came three weeks after the U.S. Capitol insurrection, when lawmakers narrowly averted what could have been a massacre carried out by a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters intent on hunting down members of Congress to stop them from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral win.
As if there weren’t already enough tension after the Capitol attack, which left five people dead, some members of Congress no longer feel safe around each other.
Last week, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) set off newly installed metal detectors when he tried to bring a gun onto the House floor, which is prohibited. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) has said she’ll carry a gun around Washington, D.C., which does not allow the open carrying of a firearm, and Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) told his local paper that he was armed when the insurrectionists stormed the Capitol.
Just this week, CNN unearthed Facebook posts by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a strong Trump ally, that supported disturbing conspiracy theories and “liked” social media posts suggesting the execution of Pelosi, among others.
On top of that, some Democrats have accused Trump allies in Congress of giving Capitol tours mere days before the insurrection, which might have amounted to “reconnaissance” for the rioters before they attacked the building. (Even before the insurrection, Capitol tours were banned because of the coronavirus pandemic.) Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) specifically said he saw Boebert giving tours, which she has denied.
Those are pretty serious allegations, but there is currently no evidence that GOP lawmakers gave advance building tours to Trump rioters. A spokesperson for the U.S. Capitol Police said only, “That matter is under investigation.”
Pelosi said Thursday that most of the security requests made in the lawmakers’ letter have already been put into effect. The sergeant at arms is meeting with members of Congress later in the day to go over new safety measures, she said, and then she will be receiving an interim report from retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honoré, whom she tasked with leading a review of Capitol security after the Jan. 6 attack.
The speaker lamented that lawmakers are afraid for their lives as they try to do their jobs and said that ultimately Trump is to blame.
“It shouldn’t be that not only is the president of the United States inciting an insurrection but keeps fanning the flame, endangering the security of members of Congress, to the point that they’re even concerned about members in the House of Representatives being a danger to them,” Pelosi said.
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