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Secret Service renews calls for $8M White House replica for training after Jan. 6 riots

Secret Service renews calls for $8M White House replica for training after Jan. 6 riots
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The Secret Service wants to replicate buildings like the White House as part of its training facility, its director told lawmakers Thursday, resurfacing an expensive idea that could gain more traction in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

The $8 million plan was shelved when it was first raised in 2015, but Secret Service Director James Murray said the facility could be a “game changer” for the agency.

“What I'm looking to invest in is to create and construct venues that replicate the areas of operation that our officers and agents work in. I'm looking to build things like White House training facilities,” Murray said, adding that such a facility would “serve the security of this country and the Secret Service for many decades to come.”

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Murray compared the lack of a White House replica to training for a basketball game on a court with no hoops.

Lawmakers did not dismiss the idea, even while noting the expense.

“I thought some years ago we were talking about appropriating monies for a White House replica, I remember it was a pricey amount,” Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) said.

“I certainly think you need to have that replica, at least for the White House because that's one of your missions.”

Murray was also asked about fencing, both the temporary structures in place after the Jan. 6 riot and a permanent structure being constructed around the White House. 

“By this time next year, that permanent White House fence will be fully installed, again, that should afford not only the Secret Service to have some enhancements operationally, but it also should afford the opportunity for our citizenry to come back on Pennsylvania Avenue and view the White House,” he said.

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But he noted a second layer of temporary anti-scale fencing may need to remain in place.

“With regard to whether or not there should be a secondary screening point or a secondary barrier ... that's going to be something that we're going to have to take a hard look at and probably look to invest in in the future.”

Murray also said the planned Jan. 6 protests should have been classified as a national special security event (NSEE) to enable more resources.

“Had it been established to be an NSEE that's one of the things you would have seen, you would have seen more people, you would have seen more perimeter fencing, you would have seen more resources,” he said.