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Republicans Lash Out Against New Security Measures At The Capitol

Several Republican members of Congress grew angry on Tuesday over new security systems implemented at the Capitol. The safety measures, which included metal detectors and physical pat-downs in some instances, were introduced after last week's deadly insurrection at the complex.

"You are creating a problem you do not understand the ramifications of," Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas was heard yelling at police who were conducting the check, according to a press pool report.

He warned that the security check was going to create chaos during busy hours on the floor when members of Congress were streaming through to vote.

Another representative, Rodney Davis of Illinois, was heard shouting that the checks were "horses***." Davis went through the metal detector, but then came back and was heard telling House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., that the new measures were "bulls***," and they were diverting valuable resources. He also said GOP members weren't consulted by security officials before they were installed.

Up until this week, lawmakers were exempt from being stopped at metal detectors — staff, reporters and visitors are all required to go through them to enter the building.

Members were reminded that House guidelines require any members with licensed firearms to restrict them to their offices.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is screened Tuesday at a metal detector at the doors of the House chamber.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is screened Tuesday at a metal detector at the doors of the House chamber.

The acting House sergeant-at-arms, Timothy Blodgett, announced the changes Tuesday, warning in a notice to members, "Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber."

Blodgett and acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman briefed Republican members on the protocols Tuesday. In the meeting, ranking member Davis blamed the majority Democrats for going overboard.

"This is political correctness run amok. The threat is outside, not inside. Every resource used inside is one that can't be used outside," he argued, according to a readout of the briefing.

The ramped-up security comes after last week's violent uprising at the Capitol in which at least five people lost their lives.

The mob had been encouraged by President Trump to go to the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify President-elect Joe Biden's White House victory.

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Alana Wise joined WAMU in September 2018 as the 2018-2020 Audion Reporting Fellow for Guns & America. Selected as one of 10 recipients nationwide of the Audion Reporting Fellowship, Alana works in the WAMU newsroom as part of a national reporting project and is spending two years focusing on the impact of guns in the Washington region.
Alana Wise
Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.