Capitol Police chief: Threats against lawmakers up nearly 65 percent since last year
Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said Wednesday that threats against members of Congress have increased nearly 65 percent in the first four months of this year compared with the same period in 2020.
Pittman also reiterated in testimony before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with oversight of the Capitol Police budget that threats have more than doubled overall — 118.7 percent — from 2017 to 2020.
Pittman previously testified before a House Appropriations subcommittee in early March that threats against lawmakers were up 93.5 percent in the first two months of 2021 compared with the same period a year ago.
The police chief’s latest appearance before a congressional committee comes after three Capitol Police officers have died and dozens more have been injured this year as a result of threats to the Capitol.
One officer, Brian Sicknick, died after engaging with the mob during the Jan. 6 insurrection, while a second, Howard Liebengood, died by suicide days after the attack. A third police officer, William Evans, died on April 2 after a man rammed his vehicle into a security barricade on the Senate side of the Capitol.
Pittman is asking lawmakers for additional funding for hiring more officers, training and expanding the force’s intelligence capabilities in response to Jan. 6.
“The [Capitol Police are] steadfast in ensuring that an incident of this nature will never occur again, especially with the realization that the possibility of a similar incident occurring in the current environment is a very real and present danger. The events of Jan. 6 demonstrate that the department must build its capabilities to adapt quickly. It must plan for the unknown,” Pittman said.
Lawmakers are expected to take up a supplemental funding bill in the coming weeks to address Capitol security.
“If we need money, of course, the money will be there. But let’s not just spend the money and then ask what we do with it,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told reporters on Wednesday.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Tuesday that he hopes that a spending bill will be ready for a vote when the House returns to session in May.
“I am hopeful that when we come back in May for our next legislative work period in Washington that we will have a bill on the floor dealing with the resources and priorities necessary to make this Capitol secure and safe from those who, as the insurrectionists did on Jan. 6, tried to invade the Capitol and prevent democracy from being pursued,” Hoyer said.