In wake of Capitol riot, House members subject to security screenings

WASHINGTON — Following the riot that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, members of the House of Representatives will now be subject to security screening, including passing through a metal detector as they enter the House chamber, lawmakers were informed Tuesday.

“To ensure compliance with the Capitol Police Board regulations concerning firearms and incendiary devices, as well as to provide a safe and secure environment in which to conduct legislative business, effective immediately, all persons, including Members, are required [to] undergo security screening when entering the House Chamber,” Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant at arms, wrote in a memo to members of Congress and staff, informing them of new security procedures that will be implemented.

“Magnetometers are being placed at selected entrances to the Chamber,” he added. “Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber.”

Police use tear gas against pro-Trump rioters
Police use tear gas against pro-Trump rioters at the Capitol on Jan. 6. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)

A copy of the memo was obtained by Yahoo News.

Blodgett also emphasized that masks are required inside the Capitol to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Members are reminded that they are required to wear masks when entering and while in the Chamber. Members not wearing a mask will not be admitted to the Floor and Members who fail to wear a mask will be removed from the Floor,” he wrote.

On Jan. 10, members and their staff, who had been evacuated to secure locations during the riot, received a memo informing them they “may have been exposed to another occupant with coronavirus infection” during the hours they spent in lockdown. Since then, at least three Democratic members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. They have blamed Republican colleagues who declined to wear masks during the evacuation.

Large numbers of pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 following a speech on the National Mall where President Trump urged his supporters to “fight like hell” and reiterated his false claim that he won last year’s election. Explosive devices were also found at locations in Washington amid the chaos.

The deaths of five people have been tied to the violence, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was reportedly struck by a fire extinguisher, and Ashli Babbitt, a Trump supporter who was shot by law enforcement. The storming of the Capitol took place as lawmakers were inside certifying Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the election. Biden will take office on Jan. 20.

Metal detectors
Newly installed metal detectors at the entrance of the House chamber. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Following the violence at the Capitol, House Sergeant at Arms Paul Irving submitted his resignation. Blodgett was sworn in as his replacement on Monday.

In his memo to members of Congress and their staffers, Blodgett also stressed House regulations for firearms.

“Members are reminded that pursuant to the firearms regulations that Members received on opening day, firearms are restricted to a Member’s Office,” he wrote.

Earlier this month, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., a staunch Trump supporter who took office this month, declared that she planned to carry her Glock around Capitol Hill and Washington. Open carry is prohibited in Washington, D.C., and concealed carry is not allowed without a license. After her comments, Boebert was contacted by local law enforcement, who reminded her of these regulations.


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