42 GOP lawmakers press for fencing around Capitol to be removed

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Forty-two Republican House members sent a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Friday, urging her to allow security fencing around the Capitol to be taken down. 

The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), sounded the alarm over proposals to implement the fencing permanently after it was erected after the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill, noting that high-profile events like the inauguration are over. 

“We write with concerns about the security measures and enhanced fencing around the U.S. Capitol even though high profile events like the inauguration are over. In particular, we are concerned with recent reports that the fencing surrounding the Capitol may become permanent,” they wrote.

“We are willing to have an honest debate about providing Capitol Hill Police with the resources they need to be better prepared without turning the Capitol into a permanent fortress. To that end, we urge you to remove the barbed wire fencing surrounding the Capitol and send the National Guard troops home to their families. It’s time. It’s time for healing and it’s time for the removal of the fencing so the nation may move forward.” 

Other lawmakers including Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Jody Hice (R-Ga.) were among those who signed on to the appeal. 

The letter marks just the latest call by members of Congress for the fencing around the Capitol to be temporary, though fewer have explicitly called for it to be immediately removed. 

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman last month called for fencing to be made permanent around the Capitol to prevent further violence following the Jan. 6 riot, which left several people dead.

However, bipartisan lawmakers have voiced concern with the message permanent fencing around “The People’s House” sends for a body that prides itself on transparency and accountability to their constituents.

“Let us be clear. The events that happened on January 6 were horrific. Understandably, certain increased security measures following that date were implemented. But it is time for Congress and its representatives to stop hiding,” wrote the 42 lawmakers.

“The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of freedom both at home and abroad. It is a place where Americans from all walks of life can visit, learn about, and witness U.S. history. Sadly, because of the fortress-like security in place, this is no longer the case,” they continue.

The Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill sparked broad security concerns after law enforcement appeared unprepared for the mob, despite knowing in advance the gathering could become violent.

The riot, which led to the deaths of several people, helped usher in a wave of new security measures, including a beefed-up law enforcement presence, more physical obstacles including the fencing and the deployment of tens of thousands of members of the National Guard to protect President Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Since Biden’s swearing-in, the National Guard’s presence in the area has been drawn down to about 7,000 troops. The troops that are left in the city will remain to ensure the safety of the area while the Senate conducts its impeachment trial of former President Trump for his role in inciting the Capitol attack. 

Tags Aftermath of the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol Donald Trump Jody Hice Nancy Pelosi Storming of the United States Capitol Ted Budd United States Capitol Police United States capitol protests
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