House Democrats fear rolling back January 6 security measures will put Tuesday's State of the Union address at risk of attack.
In a letter to congressional leadership, they voiced concern about Republicans' move to return security to levels it was at before the attack on the Capitol, reported Axios. Among other things, metal detectors would be removed.
"More than a dozen House Democrats penned a letter to congressional leadership on Wednesday expressing 'urgent concern for the safety and security of the President, other dignitaries, and guests at the upcoming State of the Union[.]'" reported Andrew Solender.
"'The GOP House Majority’s new rules have made the safety and security of the House Chamber ... at risk to infiltration and violence with reckless changes to necessary preventative measures."
The letter cites Jan. 6 and, more recently, Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) sending inert grenades to colleagues as evidence that 'the House is vulnerable to multiple fronts of attacks both from inside and outside Congress.'"
Firearms are prohibited by law from the Capitol complex in most circumstances, but there is an exception for members of Congress that allows them to transport guns to their personal offices, if unloaded and stored securely. The previous Democratic majority imposed more explicit rules that also banned guns from committee rooms, as a security measure after January 6. Multiple Republican members have discussed carrying firearms inside the Capitol complex, including Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL). They maintain these are for lawful self-defense and for the defense of fellow lawmakers.
Guns are still prohibited outright in the House Chamber itself, where the State of the Union will take place, but some Democrats fear with the metal detectors gone, there will be no way to enforce that ban.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) expressed his fears to Axios. "With Republicans taking the mags out, we have an honor system that we know is violated. I mean, they talk openly about bringing guns here, and they're going to keep doing it," he said. "We're about to gather every senior level representative from the president to the Supreme Court to the diplomatic corps well on down into that chamber. I think it's a really bad idea."
Earlier this week, Republicans in the House Natural Resources Committee shot down a push by Democrats to reinstate the committee room ban. "If we're in this point of just having to all take our safety into our own hands, does the chair believe that members of Congress should also be pursuing legal avenues in order to protect ourselves as well?" said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in the hearing.
Republicans dismissed these objections, with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) sardonically asking Ocasio-Cortez and Huffman if they believe any of their colleagues is a "homicidal maniac."