DC delegate pushes for removing Capitol fence despite car attack

DC delegate pushes for removing Capitol fence despite car attack
© Greg Nash

Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonFAA levies 5K in fines against unruly passengers this year Democrats press DOJ to prosecute unruly air passengers Ilhan Omar to Biden: 'Deliver on your promise to cancel student debt' MORE (D-D.C.), on Wednesday said there shouldn't be any permanent fencing around the Capitol despite last week's car attack that killed a police officer and injured another.

Norton introduced legislation in February that would ban any permanent fence around the Capitol complex like the one that went up in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection. She argued that Capitol security can be achieved without compromising its traditional open campus.

"There is no doubt that security at the Capitol complex needs [to] be strengthened with 21st century approaches to security and intelligence, but such improvements can be done without permanent fencing that closes the People’s House to the people," Norton said in a statement.

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Security officials in late March finished removing the outer layer of fencing that enclosed parts of the Capitol Hill neighborhood and congressional office buildings. The inner layer of fencing that immediately surrounds the main Capitol building still remains amid ongoing security repairs.

Only about nine days had passed since streets around the Capitol had reopened to traffic for the first time since January when a man tried to breach a security checkpoint along the fence that lines the Senate side of the building last Friday.

The suspect, Noah Green, allegedly crashed his car into two Capitol Police officers and a security barricade. Green then allegedly exited his vehicle with a large knife and lunged at another Capitol Police officer on the scene, who fatally shot him.

One of the Capitol Police officers, William "Billy" Evans, died. The other officer, Ken Shaver, was released from the hospital.

Green's exact motive remains unclear. The incident is under investigation by the Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police and the FBI's Washington Field Office.

Congressional leaders announced Tuesday that Evans will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda next week. The same honor was granted earlier this year to Brian Sicknick, another Capitol Police officer who died after engaging with the mob of former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE's supporters during the Jan. 6 attack.

Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman initially proposed installing permanent fencing shortly after the Jan. 6 attack. But lawmakers in both parties quickly rejected the idea.

A team led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré that reviewed the Jan. 6 security failures recommended the installation of a retractable fence that can go up temporarily during emergencies.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves This Thanksgiving, skip the political food fights and talk UFOs instead It's time for Congress to guarantee Medigap Health Insurance for vulnerable Americans with kidney disease MORE (R-Mo.), who has also introduced legislation to prohibit permanent fencing around the Capitol complex, noted during an interview on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that the fence “was right there when the car drove through."

But Rep. Tim RyanTimothy (Tim) RyanDemocrats brace for flood of retirements after Virginia rout Ohio Republicans swing for fences in redistricting proposals Ohio redistricting commission gives up on US House map MORE (D-Ohio), the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Capitol Police budget, said that security officials shouldn't rush removing the remaining Capitol fence.

“I think we’ve got to start moving in the direction of taking the fencing down. But I also think that until we have a real game plan in place — the manpower in place, the National Guard in place, these kinds of things — then we've got to be very careful in taking it down,” Ryan said during an interview with CNN on Monday.