Schumer says he will fire Senate sergeant-at-arms once Dems take control
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) says he plans on firing Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger when Democrats take control of the upper chamber later this month after pro-Trump rioters overran the Capitol on Wednesday.
“If Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Stenger hasn’t vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate,” Schumer, who is set to become the Senate majority leader, said in a Thursday statement to The Hill.
Schumer’s rebuke of Stenger comes as law enforcement and top security officials on Capitol Hill face an avalanche of scrutiny after rioters stormed the Capitol Wednesday, interrupting a joint session of Congress that had met to certify the Electoral College results. Lawmakers were forced to flee the area and were not able to return for several hours.
Stenger’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
Stenger, House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund are among those facing the most pressure as lawmaker after lawmaker calls for staffing changes.
“[Y]esterday represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government. A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place and significant changes must follow,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement Thursday. “Initial bipartisan discussions have already begun among committees of oversight and Congressional Leadership.”
Later Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that Irving would step down and called on Sund to resign.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and House Legislative Branch Appropriations subcommittee Chair Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) announced an investigation into the riots Thursday. Ryan’s panel is in charge of directing funding to the Capitol Police.
Sund defended the Capitol Police response to Wednesday’s riots, saying the department had a “robust plan” in place ahead of the demonstrations.
“The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendment activities. But make no mistake — these mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior. The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced, and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police,” he said in a statement Thursday.
Sund added that police are investigating an officer-involved shooting that killed one of the rioters and that the probe will also cover “security planning and policies and procedures.”
Still, Wednesday’s chaos set off a wave of recriminations among lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who said they were shocked that they felt unsafe in a building that had previously been viewed as nearly impenetrable.
“There are actual people — like we are people, we are lawmakers. We have been told that when we are here on these grounds that we are safe,” Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said Wednesday.
Updated at 3:14 p.m.