Democrats raise concerns about SOTU safety
House Democrats are raising the alarm over the security of President Biden and State of the Union guests ahead of the address next week in the House chamber after Republicans stripped down security infrastructure shortly after taking control in their new majority.
Metal detectors were installed outside the House chamber in the aftermath of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and were met with pushback by many GOP lawmakers. One of the first Republican moves in their new majority at the start of the year was to scrap the metal detectors.
But now a group of Democrats is expressing concern that the removal of the devices puts the president, administration officials and other guests at the address next week in danger. The group of Democrats, led by Rep. Jared Huffman (Calif.), said in a letter to congressional leadership that they had an “urgent concern” for the safety of the president.
“The GOP House Majority’s new rules have made the safety and security of the House Chamber, the very seat of American Democracy, at risk to infiltration and violence with reckless changes to necessary preventative measures,” the letter, signed by 13 other lawmakers, said. “As both of our chambers come together to hear a message from the President on the state of our Union, we are concerned for the safety and security of those present.”
Citing the decision to remove the metal detectors, the House Democrats also nodded to attempts by Republican lawmakers to bring concealed weapons into the House chamber in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack and the distribution of fake grenades by another GOP member in recent weeks.
“Considering the ability of Members of Congress to carry firearms in the capitol complex outside the House Floor, removal of magnetometers from the entrances to the House Floor, and with record threats against the lives of Members of Congress, the security of the House complex is today precarious,” the letter said.
The Democrats asked congressional leaders for a private briefing on what they are doing to ensure safety at the address, along with the House and Senate sergeant at arms and the Secret Service.
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