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Pelosi announces lawmakers will be fined $5,000 if they bypass metal detectors to House floor

The Hill logo The Hill 1/14/2021 Cristina Marcos
a group of people standing on a sidewalk: Pelosi announces lawmakers will be fined $5,000 if they bypass metal detectors to House floor © Greg Nash Pelosi announces lawmakers will be fined $5,000 if they bypass metal detectors to House floor

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that starting next week, lawmakers will face hefty fines if they refuse to go through newly installed metal detectors to enter the House chamber.

Pelosi said that the House will adopt new rules when it returns to session Jan. 21 to mandate stiff fines for bypassing security: $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second. The fines will be deducted from lawmakers' salaries.

"It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the chamber of the People's House must and will be safe," Pelosi said in a statement.

The incoming fines for refusing to comply with new security measures come after numerous House Republicans berated Capitol Police officers on Tuesday and Wednesday for asking them to go through the metal detectors.

Several GOP lawmakers defiantly pushed past Capitol Police and sergeant-at-arms staff into the chamber without going through the magnetometers.

Members of Congress are typically given a pass on going through security in the Capitol complex if they show their lawmaker pins. But the new security measure went into effect Tuesday after last week's attack on the Capitol by a violent mob in support of President Trump that tried to stop Congress from ratifying President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory.

"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 memo to lawmakers and staff.

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), who has pushed for carrying a gun in the Capitol, was seen by reporters Tuesday night setting off a metal detector and declining to turn over her bag to the police for inspection.

Another House Republican, Rep. Steve Womack (Ark.), shouted at police to "get back" and "don't touch me."

Five people died in last Wednesday's mob attack, including a Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, who was bludgeoned by the rioters. Another Capitol Police officer, Howard Liebengood, reportedly took his own life over the weekend after being on duty last on the day of the attack.

More than 50 other Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police officers were injured, including several who had to be hospitalized. And during House floor debate Tuesday night, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) revealed that one officer is likely to lose an eye and rioters tried to shoot another officer with his own gun.

"On behalf of the House, I express my deepest gratitude to the U.S. Capitol Police for the valor that they showed during the deadly insurrection on the Capitol, as they protected the lives of the staff and the Congress," Pelosi said in the statement announcing the fines for bypassing the metal detectors outside the House chamber.

"Sadly, just days later, many House Republicans have disrespected our heroes by verbally abusing them and refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our Congressional community, including the Capitol Police, safe," Pelosi added.

Two Capitol Police officers have been suspended since last week's attack: One officer was seen taking a selfie with a rioter, while the other wore a "Make America Great Again" hat and directed the mob.

It's the second time in as many days that House Democratic leaders have imposed fines to force Republicans to comply with rules meant to ensure the safety of people in the chamber.

House Democrats adopted new rules Tuesday night to mandate fines for lawmakers who fail to follow rules requiring masks on the House floor during the COVID-19 pandemic. Failure to wear a mask will result in a $500 fine on the first offense and $2,500 for a repeat offense.

Adoption of the fines for failing to wear masks came after several House Republicans were maskless while spending hours crowded in a secure space with hundreds of other lawmakers last Wednesday while law enforcement worked to clear the Capitol complex of the rioters.

Three House Democrats who were in the secure space have since tested positive for COVID-19.

Updated at 8:44 p.m.

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