Following the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol, the acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett had magnetometers (metal detectors) placed at the entrances to the House chamber, which he informed members of in a letter on Tuesday and reminded them that “pursuant to the firearms regulations that Members received on Opening Day, firearms are restricted to a Member’s Office. … Failure to complete screening or the carrying of prohibited items could result in denial of access to the Chamber.” That part of the missive was ignored during votes Tuesday and Wednesday, with Republicans blowing past the detectors and screaming “socialism” over them on Twitter and in floor statements.
Those Republicans are going to pay if they do it again. Literally. After Wednesday’s impeachment vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that on Jan. 21, when the House returns, they’ll vote on a rule change mandating steep fines for bypassing the screening: $5,000 for the first offense, $10,000 for the second offense. Like the new rule passed this week requiring masks on the floor, the fines “will be deducted directly from Members’ salaries by the Chief Administrative Officer.” Pelosi pointed to the treatment of U.S. Capitol Police seen by those Republicans, saying: “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.”
She continued, “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.” That verbal abuse came from the likes of Reps. Steve Womack of Arkansas and Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, both Republicans. “I was physically restrained!” Womack yelled, and “It’s my constitutional right!” Mullin screamed at the police. The police who saved them and their colleagues just a week before.
One House Democrat who spoke to CNN said there is “increasing tensions with certain incoming freshmen for months, who have been insistent on bringing firearms in violation of law and guidelines.” That would be specifically Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who kicked off the protest Tuesday night by arguing with the police and refusing to show what was in her bag when entering the chamber. Another potential threat is Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, who admitted to his local paper that he had a loaded gun on the House floor during the riots.
“There are concerns about the gun-toting members, but also we don’t know who they’re going to bring to the inauguration who can bypass the metal detectors,” a second House Democrat told CNN. “Until there’s an investigation and until we understand our colleagues’ level of complicity in the attack, we don’t know how involved they really were. Until we have answers, I don’t think we should trust them—not all of them of course, but some of them.” They shouldn’t.