Lawmakers are torn over whether they should be in session on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, with some feeling it’s too dangerous and others arguing it can’t look like the mob scared them away.
In comments to HuffPost on Tuesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) became the most prominent voice arguing that lawmakers should not be in session.
“If I were in charge of the Senate, I would not have us in session on Jan. 6 because you never know when someone may decide to mark the anniversary,” Collins said, suggesting there may be heightened security concerns.
“I just think that day is too freighted with anxiety and anger and it would just be better if we did not have any sort of ‘anniversary’ of that day,” she added.
Democrats on Tuesday unveiled the chamber’s calendar for 2022, with senators returning for work beginning the week of Jan. 3 and staying in town through the anniversary of the deadly riot that involved hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The House is not scheduled to gavel in for the 2022 session until Jan. 10, but Democrats are planning to hold events to commemorate the Jan. 6 anniversary anyway, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said last week.
Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) told HuffPost she personally wishes they were in session that day.
“I think it’s a bad message not to be here,” Wild said. Wild was one of the last members to exit the House gallery on Jan. 6, captured in a photograph lying on the ground in distress, with Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) comforting her. She and other lawmakers who were stuck there during the riot have stayed in touch and supported each other over the past year, calling themselves the “gallery group.”
Wild said there’s been discussion among those members about whether they should be there for the one-year anniversary.
“Do we want to be here? Some of us are talking about possibly coming back anyway,” Wild said. “Some of us are talking about being together. … We don’t know yet what we’re going to do, but I’m not happy that I’m not going to be here. I feel like we should be there. I feel like the message is that somehow we’ve been scared away on Jan. 6, and I don’t think that’s really the case.”
The White House also intends to commemorate the anniversary of the attack, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday, though specifics are still in the works.
Other senators said they didn’t see a reason the Senate shouldn’t be in session on Jan. 6.
“We should be at work,” Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) told HuffPost. “I think there are security concerns all the time. And you know, we’re aware of them. But we got to do to the people’s work.”
“I don’t think there’s anything unique about this Jan. 6 that would make it any more dangerous than any other day,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) added.
Arthur Delaney contributed reporting.