Security officials said they would lower fences around the U.S. Capitol and cut off the entire area to pedestrian and vehicle traffic since the January 6 riot, as a report says the military was reluctant to help authorities in Washington, DC before the deadly riot.
Timothy Blodgett, the acting House Sergeant-at-Arms, on Monday said in a note to members of Congress that fencing would be reduced to two phases in response to directives from the United States Capitol Police that “it there is no threat ”which justifies the maintenance of the temporary barrier.
These movements “will bring the fence closer to the Capitol building and allow access to avenues and certain sidewalks. The [Architect of the Capitol] will also remove the razor wire on the inner perimeter fence ”.
The riot, an attempt to far right supporters of former President Donald Trump to prevent a joint session of Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, has left five people dead. The Ministry of Justice loaded more than 300 people in connection with the riot and plans to charge at least 100 others.
How to protect lawmakers, while keeping the Capitol grounds open to visitors, has emerged as one of the deadly insurgency’s most daunting questions.
Lawmakers on both sides decried the fence as unsightly, expensive and beyond what is necessary, describing their discomfort with arriving to work every day in what can feel like a war zone, complete with checkpoints and National Guard troops lining the perimeter fence.
The absence of tourists taking photos of the Capitol dome or voters meeting with officials is an emotional loss on top of the coronavirus restrictions, according to the Associated Press news agency, although security concerns remain high.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her colleagues after Blodgett’s announcement that Capitol Police “will continue to monitor the threat posture and plans will be adjusted if and as needed.”
Calls to remove the barrier come as The Washington Post reveals that US Army officials “pushed” to block a DC government request for a small contingent of National Guard soldiers ahead of the riot. Capitol.
The Post quoted a draft internal memo, explaining that troops “should not be needed to assist police with traffic and crowd management, as city officials had requested unless more than 100,000 protesters are not expected ”.
The Post claimed that the memo clearly explained the “reluctance” of senior Pentagon officials to highlight their questions about the use of the US military on national soil.
But “the mayor’s request has been approved and supported,” Wilkinson told the Post. “The draft note was neither signed nor approved. It is customary for the Army Staff to offer options to senior Army leaders to inform their decision-making process. “
Political pressure to remove security fences has intensified. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky compared it to a combat zone in Afghanistan, saying “we are overreacting.” The number two Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin of Illinois, called it “horrible.”
On Monday, Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, praised the move to lower the fences. “I would go further than that if it were up to me,” Blunt said. “I think our next problem is very unlikely to be a carbon copy of the last problem.”
Blunt said fencing costs taxpayers $ 1.9 million per week and National Guard troops protecting Capitol Hill have cost more than $ 500 million since Jan.6.
As Congress searches for a way forward, it is unclear whether lawmakers will be able to agree on the parameters of a bipartisan commission to study security failures. Partisan tensions remain high and have even worsened since Trump’s supporters besieged the building more than two months ago.
The idea of a 9/11-type commission has been stuck since Pelosi initially proposed creating an 11-member body with four Republicans and seven Democrats, three of whom would be chosen by President Joe Biden.
Pelosi said in the letter to his colleagues that the commission is a “remaining priority” and that the United States “needs to find out the truth about how the January 6 attack happened, and we need to make sure that it cannot happen again “.