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Senate to get briefing on Capitol security measures

Senate to get briefing on Capitol security measures
© Greg Nash

The Senate will get briefed this week on security measures around the Capitol, Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHow to fast-track climate action? EPA cutting super pollutant HFCs On The Money: How demand is outstripping supply and hampering recovery | Montana pulls back jobless benefits | Yellen says higher rates may be necessary Senate Democrats announce B clean bus plan MORE (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday.

Schumer said Yogananda Pittman, the acting Capitol police chief, and Jennifer Hemingway, the acting Senate sergeant at arms, will brief the Senate on "the current and future security measures around the Capitol."

The briefing comes as extra security is still in place after the Jan. 6 attack, with National Guard members stationed around the building and fencing blocking off public access to the Capitol complex and some nearby streets.

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"It is our solemn responsibility to protect the Capitol and everyone who works and visits within it. It's our solemn duty to prevent a day like January 6 from ever, ever being repeated. At the same time, the Capitol has been and must be once again a symbol of democracy that's accessible to the people," Schumer said. 

"No one expects the Capitol to remain a militarized zone in perpetuity. ... We must strive to strike the balance between access and security," Schumer added.

A Senate official said the briefing will take place Wednesday and will be virtual.

The Capitol Police recently recommended that the fence around the Capitol remain in place until September over concerns that insurrectionist groups could return to Washington, D.C., The Associated Press reported last week.

A growing number of Republican lawmakers have called for the fence, which went up after the Jan. 6 attack, to be taken down. A separate proposal for permanent fencing also sparked backlash from D.C. leadership and members of Congress.

But Pittman, in a statement late last month, said she believed "vast improvements" are needed to security around the Capitol, including "permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol."

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The Senate briefing will come days after the chamber had its first public hearing on the Jan. 6 attack as part of the joint Rules Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee investigation. 

Paul Irving, the former House sergeant at arms; Steven Sund, the former Capitol Police chief; Michael Stenger, the former Senate sergeant at arms; and Robert Contee, the acting D.C. police chief, are testifying before the two panels.

Updated at 6:55 p.m.