Pelosi: FAA’s apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of skydiving flight ‘inexcusable’

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) late Wednesday said the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of a military parachuting demonstration was “inexcusable,” after the miscommunication triggered an evacuation of the U.S. Capitol and surrounding buildings.

U.S. Capitol Police ordered an evacuation of the Capitol earlier Wednesday, writing in a statement that authorities were “tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat to the Capitol Complex.” The advisory was rescinded soon after, with officials saying there was no threat.

The aircraft in question was reportedly being flown by the U.S. Army Golden Knights for that evening’s Washington Nationals game. Members of the military group parachuted into Nationals Park, located a little more than a mile from the Capitol, for military appreciation night.

Pelosi slammed the FAA for its apparent failure to inform Capitol Police of the preplanned flyover at the stadium. She said the incident was “particularly harmful” for Capitol personnel who are still reeling from the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the complex.

Most congressional lawmakers, however, were not at the building at the time of the incident because the House and Senate were out of session.

“The Federal Aviation Administration’s apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable,” Pelosi said. “The unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.”

She said Congress is going to review “the results of a thorough after-action review that determines what precisely went wrong today” and who at the FAA will be held accountable for the “outrageous and frightening mistake.”

The FAA told The Hill on Thursday that it “takes its role in protecting the national airspace seriously,” adding that the agency “will conduct a thorough and expeditious review of the events yesterday and share updates.”

“We know our actions affect others, especially in our nation’s capital region, and we must communicate early and often with our law enforcement partners,” the agency added in a statement.

Pelosi on Wednesday also thanked the Capitol Police for their heroism.

“Today, and every day, our Congressional community is extraordinarily grateful for the heroism of our United States Capitol Police officers,” Pelosi said. “In ordering the evacuation of the Capitol and vigilantly monitoring for a potential aircraft threat, our officers ensured the safety of all who work in these hallowed halls — and we thank them for their exemplary service.”

— Updated at 9:07 a.m.

Tags Nancy Pelosi

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