GOP lawmakers fined $5,000 for bypassing House security screenings

Greg Nash

Two GOP lawmakers are now facing $5,000 fines for bypassing metal detectors while entering the House chamber after Democrats voted this week to impose the punitive measure to enforce compliance.

Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Andrew Clyde (Ga.) were issued fines by the sergeant-at-arms over incidents that occurred Thursday, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The fines are being issued after House Democrats voted on Tuesday night to establish the fines, which are $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second.

Lawmakers can appeal the fines to the House Ethics Committee. But if the panel upholds the fines, they will be deducted out of lawmakers’ paychecks and cannot be paid with campaign or congressional office budget funds.

Gohmert said that he had left the floor momentarily to use the restroom and was unaware that he needed to be wanded by a police officer again. He said he plans to appeal the fine.

“Unlike in the movie The Godfather, there are no toilets with tanks where one could hide a gun, so my reentry onto the House floor should have been a non-issue,” Gohmert said in a statement. 

Clyde’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

The metal detectors were installed outside the House chamber last month, days after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a violent mob of former President Trump’s supporters who were trying to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s electoral victory.

But several Republicans immediately pushed back on the metal detectors and berated Capitol Police officers and sergeant-at-arms staff who asked them to comply. Some Republicans speed-walked past the metal detectors or pushed past security staff to enter the chamber without undergoing screenings.

The metal detectors were installed to enforce longstanding rules that expressly prohibit lawmakers from bringing guns into the House and Senate chambers or adjacent areas.

Members of Congress are typically allowed to skip security screenings that others entering the Capitol complex are required to undergo. Lawmakers are still allowed to bypass metal detectors elsewhere in the Capitol complex, aside from the ones now stationed outside entrances to the House chamber.

Under a 1967 Capitol Police Board regulation, members of Congress have limited exemptions from the prohibition on guns in the Capitol complex. Lawmakers can keep guns in their offices or transport them unloaded and securely wrapped.

But last month, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) nearly brought a concealed gun onto the House floor before being stopped by Capitol Police while undergoing a screening outside the chamber.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) acknowledged in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon published Friday that some lawmakers have been quietly flouting the rule banning guns in the House chamber.

“The fact of the matter is that, historically speaking, a number of members that carried just kind of didn’t really acknowledge or follow that rule but they didn’t make a show out of it,” Roy said. “No one said anything about it, no one asked.”

Roy also told the Free Beacon that he is considering taking legal action against the metal detectors and fines.

“It’s an outrage. I believe it deprives us of our Second Amendment right to defend ourselves,” Roy said.

Harris’s office said that the Maryland Republican has faced security threats recently and indicated that he carries a gun for self-defense.

Democrats also voted last month to impose fines on lawmakers who don’t comply with rules requiring masks on the House floor during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lawmakers who don’t wear masks on the House floor are subject to a $500 fine on the first offense and $2,500 on the second.

Updated: 10:40 p.m.

Tags Andy Harris Chip Roy Donald Trump Louie Gohmert metal detectors

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