Speed Reads

Capitol siege aftermath

Divided House approves $5,000-$10,000 fines for lawmakers who bypass security screenings

The House voted 216 to 210 Tuesday night to fine lawmakers $5,000 the first time they bypass new security measures and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. Capitol Police installed metal detectors outside the House chamber after the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, but some Republican lawmakers have just walked around the magnetometers or refused to stop after setting them off. House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) criticized the "elitist mentality" of such lawmakers in a floor speech Tuesday.

Lawmakers are not allowed to bring firearms into the House chamber. "The rules apply to us, too — and it's time all of us acted like it," McGovern said. Some of his "friends on the other side," he added, "are acting as though by being elected to Congress, they have been anointed to some sort of special club — one that gets to pick and choose what rules to follow."

No Republicans voted for the new rule. In an email to House Republicans sent Tuesday night, Rep. Lauren Boebert's (R-Colo.) office urged other members to vote against the "unconstitutional metal detector fines." Other Republicans point out that they are allowed to step around metal detectors when they enter the Capitol and its office buildings.

Lawmakers will now have 90 days to pay any fines incurred before the money is taken directly from their paychecks. It is "an unprecedented step," Politico reports, but it "speaks to the new reality: lawmakers are afraid of being injured, or worse, by colleagues trying to sneak weapons on to the House floor."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has instituted new security measures for House members and their staff both inside and outside of the Capitol, and a full review of congressional security she ordered will be finished in March. She is also calling for a "9/11-style commission" to investigate the Jan. 6 siege. Pelosi said Tuesday that the security fines are "sad" but necessary after "many House Republicans began disrespecting our heroes by refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our congressional community safe — including by dodging metal detectors, physically pushing past police, and even attempting to bring firearms into the chamber."