New House security program to provide members $10K to safeguard their homes

The Capitol
Sun shines on the U.S Capitol dome on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 9, 2022. The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol will hold the first in a series of hearings laying out its findings on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The House Sergeant at Arms is creating a residential security program that will provide thousands of dollars to congressional lawmakers to help safeguard their homes.

The Sergeant at Arms sent a letter to members and staff on Monday announcing the residential security program, which is set to begin on Aug. 15, according to a Republican congressional aide with knowledge of the plans.

The initiative will pay for up to $10,000 worth of security system equipment and installation costs at House lawmakers’ personal residences. Eligible equipment includes motion sensors, video recorders, indoor and outdoor cameras and door locks.

The Sergeant at Arms, which serves as the chief law enforcement and protocol officer of the House, said the program is meant to bolster security for House members and their families.

“[T]he Sergeant at Arms (SAA) will assume the cost of and oversee certain future residential security upgrades, maintenance, and monthly monitoring fees. This program will strengthen the security of Members of the House of Representatives and their families,” the Sergeant at Arms wrote in the letter announcing the initiative.

The officer also said the program cover fixed-rate monthly monitoring and maintenance fees up to $150 a month incurred by members.

Punchbowl News first reported on the program on Monday.

News of the initiative comes after a number of lawmakers have been faced with concerning threats in recent weeks.

Last week, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), who is running for governor of New York, was attacked while onstage at a campaign event in the Empire State. A man wielding a sharp weapon tried to stab Zeldin, but the congressman grabbed his wrist to stop him before others ran on stage and intervened.

Zeldin’s campaign has since said the congressman and his staff are safe. He was not injured in the incident. A suspect has been charged with assaulting a member of Congress using a dangerous weapon.

Earlier this month, a man was arrested near the home of Rep. Pramila Jayapal in Seattle for allegedly threatening to kill the congresswoman. The Washington Democrat said former President Trump was responsible for the rise in political violence.

And Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) shared a video on Twitter this month of vulgar and threatening calls his congressional office had received.

A number of congressional lawmakers have received additional security in recent weeks, according to Punchbowl News, including all members of the Jan. 6 select committee, who are accompanied by Capitol Police protection. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has also reportedly received a Capitol Police detail.

The U.S. Capitol Police’s Threat Assessment Team opened about 1,820 cases from the beginning of the year through March 23, the department told The Hill on Monday. Cases include direct threats and directions of interest, which are defined as concerning statements or action.

Those statistics are the latest the department has released this year.

For comparison, Capitol Police received 9,625 threats and directions of interest in 2021, and 8,613 in 2020.

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