The measure, which was included in the coronavirus budget reconciliation package, passed with 216 votes for verus 210 votes against. It now means lawmakers can expect hefty fines for refusing to comply with the new security measures set up by Capitol Police.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi first threatened the fines after over a dozen Republican lawmakers refused to walk through the metal detectors on their way to the House floor, less than a week after the U.S. Capitol attack. The violence resulted in the death of five people, including one police officer. Two other police officers died following the event from suicide.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, reportedly told Capitol Police, “You can’t stop me; I’m on my way to a vote,” before walking around the magnetometers, according to a Huff Post reporter outside the chamber.
Lawmakers can now expect to pay $5,000 in fines the first time they violate the new security measures, followed by a hefty $10,000 fine each time they violate the rules thereafter.
The fines could come directly out of the lawmaker’s salary. Members cannot use campaign funds or money allocated for office operations to pay for their fines.
Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., gave a heated speech from the floor, condemning the “elitist mentality” of those who refuse to comply with the security precautions in the first place.
“Apparently, some of my friends on the other side think differently,” McGovern added. “Some are acting as though by being elected to Congress, they have been anointed to some sort of special club — one that gets to pick and choose what rules to follow.”
Tensions following the attack even amongst lawmakers remain high, and Democratic members have voiced concerns regarding their safety around fellow GOP lawmakers — some who supported charged rhetoric in the lead up to the Capitol riot.
Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., moved offices for hers and her “team’s safety” after having a hallway altercation with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.
And Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., was found to be carrying a concealed weapon after he walked through a metal detector outside the House chamber last month, though he did not enter the House chamber.
Lawmakers are permitted to have firearms in their offices and can walk the grounds with them, though they are not allowed in the House or Senate chambers with weapons.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn, R-N.C., who has come under intense scrutiny for his incitement of anger in the lead up to the Jan. 6 riot, also said that he had been carrying a weapon during the riot – though it remains unclear whether or not he had the firearm on the House floor.
California Democrats Rep. Jared Huffman and Rep. Jackie Speier introduced legislation at the end of last year that seeks to tighten gun security in the Capitol by removing the law that allows lawmakers to carry firearms around the grounds.
Speier is no stranger to gun violence. She was shot five times in Guyana, South America in 1978 with former Congressman Leo Ryan who was killed after visiting the infamous commune known as Jonestown. which housed some of Ryan’s constituents.
Speier has occupied Ryan’s former seat in Congress since 2008.
Chad Pergram contributed to this report.
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