As a response to the attack on the Capitol Building, which resulted in five dead and at least three representatives with positive COVID cases, House leadership instituted some new rules, including mandatory face coverings and a metal detector outside the chamber doors. Most lawmakers agreed to the basic security measure even if it obstructed the usual flow of the U.S. Congress at work.
But several Republican legislators objected to the metal detectors. “This is bullshit,” Illinois representative Rodney Davis told a Capitol Police officer manning the machine. Arkansas representative Steve Womack reportedly expanded on the idea to an officer who did not have a say in the policy: “You are creating a problem you do not understand the ramifications of.” As the night progressed, many more ignored the cops who had scores of colleagues injured by Trump supporters six days ago:
There appear to be a few party lines forming among the Republicans who oppose the magnetometer. For Oklahoma representative Markwayne Mullin, it is his “constitutional right” to not go through a device that did not exist when the Constitution was written. Six days after a stunt vote she supported helped lead to the Capitol riot, Lauren Boebert said the heightened security is a “political stunt by Speaker Pelosi.” “We now live in Pelosi’s communist America!” tweeted Arizona representative Debbie Lesko, of a policy that many American high-schoolers have been subject to for decades. (Like in some of our nation’s high schools, the GOP’s refusal to stop representatives who want to bring guns inside the Capitol suggests the “good guys with guns” philosophy wins out in both settings.)
The most practical objection came from Louisiana representative Steve Scalise, who told CNN that the situation is “untenable” because it “impedes the ability of members to come and vote.” Scalise — who was shot in a left-wing extremist attack in 2017 — did not mention that Democratic representatives and the majority of Republicans complied with the measure. The most tone-deaf objection came from Florida representative Greg Steube:
As Congress returns to its normal rhythms in the coming weeks, it may be that these heightened security measures are not necessary, and that more effective policy measures — or Capitol Police actually listening to FBI warnings of a “war” coming their way — will be more effective than a metal detector in keeping lawmakers safe. In the interim, the outright rejection of efforts to secure the Capitol after it was overrun in a coordinated attack suggests that these lawmakers treat personal security about as seriously as they do pandemic safety. Four of the five representatives seen in a video from Wednesday smugly refusing masks as they shelter in a crowded room — Marjorie Taylor Greene, Markwayne Mullin, Scott Perry, and Andy Biggs — objected to the presence of the metal detector.