Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Wednesday that House members who ignore new security procedures, including refusing to walk through metal detectors, will soon be subject to fines of $5,000 or more.
Multiple Republican representatives have either refused to take part in the new security screenings or have been outspoken in denouncing them. The refusals began after security was enhanced on Tuesday, following last week’s insurrection by violent supporters of President Donald Trump, who stormed the Capitol as Congress was meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“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 a statement. “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.”
“The House will soon move forward with a rule change imposing fines on those who refuse to abide by these protections,” she explained. “The fine for the first offense will be $5,000 and $10,000 for the second offense. The fines will be deducted directly from Members’ salaries by the Chief Administrative Officer. It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People’s House must and will be safe.”
GOP members who denounced the security or reportedly refused to take part on Tuesday included Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas), Steve Stivers (Ohio), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Van Taylor (Texas), Debbie Lesko (Ariz.) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.). Some were seen pushing past long screening lines, walking around the metal detector and Capitol Police officers, while protesting that their rights were being violated or making indignant comments like “you can’t stop me.”
Critics accused Pelosi of installing the security as a “political stunt.” Some Republicans insisted that they had the right to carry guns in the Capitol. Firearms are allowed on Capitol grounds, but House rules prohibit them from being taken into the chamber. The new screening procedures apply to anyone who enters the chamber, although only Republicans have so far been seen refusing to comply.
House Democrats may soon further fan the flames of partisan outrage by adopting fines for members who refuse to wear face masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic, another requirement that has been ignored by mostly GOP members. Lawmakers who do not comply will be fined $500 for the first offense and $2,500 for the second, according to the Associated Press, citing a senior House Democratic aide speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Newsweek reached out to the Republican National Committee for comment.
It is not clear if the metal detectors continued to be a major point of contention when the House met to impeach Trump on Wednesday for allegedly inciting the Capitol insurrection. Trump became the first-ever president to be impeached twice with the help of 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment alongside their Democratic colleagues.
The insurrection resulted in at least five deaths and many more injuries. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick died after a violent Trump supporter allegedly hit him in the head with a fire extinguisher. Several other officers suffered injuries after being physically attacked by the unruly mob, who presumably believed that the riot could lead to Trump remaining in power despite losing the election.