U.S. Capitol Police will begin scaling back some of the fencing erected around the Capitol, officials announced Monday, saying there is no “known, credible threat against Congress” that warrants the current fortifications.
The acting House sergeant-at-arms, Timothy Blodgett, sent a security memo to lawmakers two months after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. Blodgett said authorities would work in partnership with the Capitol architect to reposition an inner ring of fencing closer to the building this week and remove the razor wire on top, and remove the outer perimeter of fencing later this month.
The Capitol complex has been encircled by 7-foot fences since shortly after the riot, when hundreds of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the halls of Congress. Five people died as a result of the attack, although no lawmakers were harmed.
Blodgett also said that the Capitol Police and National Guard will maintain an increased presence in Washington, but, “based on the current threat posture, it is anticipated that the National Guard will begin to reduce its posture at the Capitol in the coming weeks.”
Lawmakers from both parties have bristled at the barricades and called for them to be scaled back, saying the imposing fortifications were inconvenient and antithetical to the idea of the Capitol as a symbol of democracy.
“As the U.S. Capitol Police continues to build its personnel capacity, there is no doubt that some level of support from the National Guard should remain in the National Capital Region to respond to credible threats against the Capitol,” Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the top party members on the House Armed Services Committee, wrote earlier this month in a joint statement. “However, the present security posture is not warranted at this time.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) wrote a letter to colleagues on Monday saying Capitol Police would continue to monitor for threats, noting plans “will be adjusted if and as needed.” The lawmaker added her remaining priority was moving forward with an “outside 9/11-type Commission, with bipartisan support, to ‘investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6 domestic terrorist attack upon the Capitol Complex.’”
“We must get to the truth of how the January 6 assault happened, and we must ensure that it cannot happen again,” Pelosi said. “It is essential that we proceed in a bipartisan way in order to have a respected outcome.”