Senators to unveil bill banning permanent Capitol fence

Senators to unveil bill banning permanent Capitol fence
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A bipartisan pair of senators will introduce legislation on Thursday to ban permanent fencing at the U.S. Capitol amid broad backlash against the beefed-up security measures in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack.

Sens. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSwalwell slams House Republican for touting funding in bill she voted down Johnson, Thune signal GOP's rising confidence Senate Minority Whip Thune, close McConnell ally, to run for reelection MORE (R-Mo.) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Former Maryland rep announces bid for old House seat Hogan won't say if he will file to run for Senate by Feb. 22 deadline MORE (D-Md.) will introduce the bill on Thursday and hold a press conference with Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonHolmes Norton: Cruz effort to block DC student vaccine mandate 'crosses the line' Overnight Health Care — Presented by AstraZeneca and Friends of Cancer Research — Former advisers urge Biden to revise strategy Cruz looks to overturn DC student vaccine mandate MORE (D-D.C.), who introduced the same legislation in the House last month.

The bill, based on text of the House legislation, would prevent federal funding from being used to construct a permanent fence around Capitol buildings or on Capitol grounds.

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The introduction of the Senate bill comes as Capitol security officials finished removing an outer perimeter of fencing, which extended blocks away from the Capitol building, allowing roads that have been closed in the wake of the attack by a pro-Trump mob to reopen.

There is still a barrier that circles the main Capitol building, which security officials have said is staying in place as repairs continue to be made. National Guard troops are also expected to remain at the Capitol into May, as part of a two-month extension requested by the Capitol Police and agreed to by the Pentagon.

The decision to put up the fencing, much of which was previously topped with barbed wire, had sparked fierce backlash from lawmakers, who questioned if the beefed-up security was an overreaction and questioned the message Congress was projecting to the world.

"I'm extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can't come to the Capitol. With all this razor wire around the complex it reminds me of my last visit to Kabul," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine 'is an invasion' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters earlier this month.

Norton, in a letter to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says she's open to stock trading ban for Congress Manchin: Biden spending plan talks would start 'from scratch' Reps. Massie, Grijalva test positive for COVID-19 MORE (D-Calif.), said permanent fencing "would send an un-American message" and would negatively impact D.C. neighborhoods around the Capitol.

"These residents and businesses have been more than understanding as their neighborhoods have turned into militarized zones. ... Permanent fencing would infringe on their ability, as well as the general public’s ability, to enjoy the public spaces that define our nation’s capital," she wrote.