House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday that any lawmaker who refuses to pass through new metal detectors installed in the U.S. Capitol may be hit with severe fines under a proposed rule change, a step she called “tragic” but “necessary” after several Republicans refused to do so.
Pelosi said she would introduce a rule change on Jan. 21 that the House will then vote on. The announcement comes after HuffPost’s Matt Fuller reported that at least 10 Republicans refused to comply with the safety measure. The magnetometers were installed just outside the House chamber after last week’s violent insurrection at the Capitol, which that left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
“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,” she said in a statement. She added: “It is tragic that this step is necessary, but the Chamber of the People’s House must and will be safe.”
House members will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second, and the penalties will be deducted directly from their salaries.
Some Republicans are particularly aggrieved with the metal detectors (which they go through regularly anyway for their air travel). On Tuesday, Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) attacked the use of the machines as an “appalling” infringement on his rights, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said they were “unnecessary, unconstitutional, and endanger[ed] members,” and newly elected Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) simply pushed her way through them and rebuffed officers’ requests to check her purse.
Boebert is one of several House lawmakers who is vocal about carrying a firearm, arguing she is legally entitled to do so in the Capitol complex. Another freshman lawmaker, Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), has said he was armed when the riot took place last week.
The acting House sergeant at arms told members earlier this week that the metal detectors were in place to ensure a “safe and secure environment,” and said firearms are restricted to a lawmaker’s own office.