The decision by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic majority after the Jan. 6 riots to force members of Congress to walk through metal detectors before entering the House chamber has been an ongoing source of controversy.
- When the magnetometers were first installed, Republican members were “furious” and vowed to fight the requirement.
- In response to GOPers’ fight against the devices, Pelosi implemented fines of $5,000 for the first offense of evading a detector and $10,000 for subsequent offenses.
- Shortly after the fines took effect, at least two Republican congressmen, Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andrew Clyde of Georgia, were nailed for how they went through the metal detectors.
- Multiple witnesses said they saw Pelosi enter the chamber without going through security screening, which would be a violation of her own rules, but she was never fined.
- Pelosi made headlines shortly thereafter by calling Republican lawmakers who opposed the security measures and allegedly wanted to carry firearms in the chamber “the enemy” within the House.
- In May, two congressmen — one Democrat and one Republican — had fines for reportedly skirting the metal detectors waived after the House Ethics Committee heard their allegations that the Capitol Police’s reports were in error. However, the committee refused to drop fines imposed on Gohmert and Clyde.
- This summer, Gohmert and Clyde filed suit in federal court, saying the fines violate the 27th Amendment, which prohibits docking a lawmaker’s pay during Congress, and Article I of the Constitution, which prohibits the arrest of a lawmaker while traveling to official business.
- Just last month, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) was issued a $5,000 fine for failing to go through a metal detector.
Despite ongoing protestations and controversy, Pelosi announced in June that the metal detectors would stay indefinitely.
But now at least some member’s of Pelosi’s own caucus are saying enough’s enough.
In the nine months since the imposition of the metal detectors, even some of Pelosi’s fellow Democrats have tired of the devices and their questionable usefulness, Business Insider reported Monday night.
New York freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres (D) told the outlet, “I find it degrading that as a member of Congress I have to go through metal detectors.”
Apparently, the detectors not only present an imposition for official business but also other “business,” according to Torres.
“Even when I use the bathroom, I have to go through metal detectors,” he added.
“I think it impedes the business of Congress,” Torres said. “It takes us much longer to enter the House floor, and I see no reason for it.”
New Jersey Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski is equally unimpressed with the Pelosi security plan.
“I think they were an important psychological reassurance after the traumatic events of January 6th,” he told Business Insider. “But as a practical security measure they don’t make a lot of sense to me, given what the actual threats are.”
“I think it would be good for the comity of the place to focus on real security, not optical security,” Malinowski added.
However, some Democrats continue to accuse Republican members of being a threat to security — but Torres isn’t buying it and said the devices serve no practical security purpose.
“Where do you draw the line?” Torres asked when pressed by Business Insider. “You could, in theory, install metal detectors at every entrance to every office.”