Tensions flared Tuesday evening between a handful of House Republicans and the Capitol Police over new metal detectors that were placed outside the House chamber in the wake of the attack on the Capitol.
The lawmakers were heard by reporters complaining about the detectors and railing against Democrats as they tried to enter the House chamber to vote, saying they were not consulted by Democratic leadership about the decision to install the devices.
“You’re taking valuable resources completely away from where it needs to be, and you guys did it without any consultation with the minority,” Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisGOP lawmakers told Trump takes some responsibility for Capitol riot The Hill’s Morning Report – A dark day as Trump embraces ‘special’ rioters McMorris Rodgers floats vacating Speaker’s chair over Democrat’s in-person vote after COVID diagnosis MORE (R-Ill.) shouted at House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerManchin: House impeachment plan ‘ill-advised’ FBI seeks assistance identifying Capitol rioter who carried Confederate flag Republicans gauge support for Trump impeachment MORE (D-Md.) before calling the detectors “bullshit.”
“You are creating a problem you do not understand the ramifications of,” Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackHouse Republicans who didn’t sign onto the Texas lawsuit Jason Smith set to serve as top Republican on House Budget Committee On The Money: Trump gambles with new stimulus strategy | Trump cannot block grand jury subpoena for his tax returns, court rules | Long-term jobless figures rise, underscoring economic pain MORE (R-Ark.) yelled at the police manning the detectors, shouting at them to “get back” and “don’t touch me.”
Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who has touted her desire to carry her Glock pistol in the Capitol, was also seen by a reporter setting off a detector and refusing to turn her bag over to the police for inspection.
While it was not immediately clear what the confrontation with the officers was about, Boebert later tweeted, “I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C. and within the Capitol complex” and that the detectors are “just another political stunt by Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi.”
I am legally permitted to carry my firearm in Washington, D.C. and within the Capitol complex.
Metal detectors outside of the House would not have stopped the violence we saw last week — it’s just another political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.
— Rep. Lauren Boebert (@RepBoebert) January 13, 2021
The Republican criticism marked the latest source of tension in a Capitol that has already been rocked by last week’s deadly riots and this week’s impeachment proceedings in the House, which are kicking off Tuesday night.
The metal detectors were installed Tuesday to screen everyone — including lawmakers — before entering the House chamber. The devices are the latest defense system to be set up after last week’s violent mob stormed the Capitol, overwhelming police and killing at least one officer.
“To ensure compliance with 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,” acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett wrote in a notice.
The metal detectors are set up at select entrances to the chamber, according to Blodgett, who added that “failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber.”
Republicans panned the measure Tuesday as unnecessary and claimed they were left out of the decision to set up the detectors.
“They’re impeding the ability of members to come and vote,” said House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseWave of companies cut off donations — much of it to GOP GOP lawmakers voice frustration with leadership response to Trump riots READ: The Republicans who voted to challenge election results MORE (R-La.), adding that there were detectors at various other points throughout the Capitol complex. “They were strictly designed to impede the ability for members to come and vote. This is our job. This was never discussed by anybody, you don’t make a major change like this.”
“For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!” added Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.).
For members of Congress to enter the floor of the U.S. House, we now have to go through intense security measures, on top of the security we already go through. These new provisions include searches and being wanded like criminals. We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!
— Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (@RepDLesko) January 13, 2021
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a conservative firebrand who heads the House Freedom Caucus, said the detectors were “crap” and “the stupidest thing” as he encountered them.
Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonHouse Republicans who didn’t sign onto the Texas lawsuit Vaccine development process is safe, claims of the contrary are baseless Congress must protect kidney disease patients during the COVID-19 pandemic MORE (R-Ind.) called on House Republicans to “formally protest” and said that “forcing the Capitol Police to not allow Members onto the House floor without a “security” checkpoint is unconstitutional.”
In addition, what @SpeakerPelosi is doing by forcing the Capitol Police to not allow Members onto the House floor without a “security” checkpoint is unconstitutional based on Article 1, Section 6. This should not stand. @GOPLeader with House Republicans must formally protest.
— Larry Bucshon, MD (@RepLarryBucshon) January 13, 2021
Ultimately, roughly 10 lawmakers were seen bypassing the detectors and walking into the chamber, raising questions as to the devices’ efficacy, particularly given officers’ hesitancy to restrain House members.
The Capitol Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill regarding the complaints.
The GOP grousing over the detectors comes as Capitol Police and the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms look to ramp up security around the Capitol in preparation for next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenCapitol Police confirm investigation into some officers’ behavior during riot GOP lawmakers told Trump takes some responsibility for Capitol riot Director of Army Staff disputes Capitol Police chief account of National Guard deployment MORE.
Law enforcement appeared woefully unprepared for last week’s mob and have been inundated with bipartisan criticism since the lethal riot. Since then, a 7-foot “non-scalable fence” was erected along the perimeter of the Capitol, and the Pentagon authorized the National Guard to deploy up to 15,000 Guard members for support on Inauguration Day.
Juliegrace Brufke and Scott Wong contributed to this report.