Posted by 03 February 2021
After the January 6 riot, House Speaker Pelosi installed metal detectors outside the House chambers to screen members before they enter. Now members who do not comply with these screenings face a $10,000 fine.
Traditionally, members of Congress have been free from being screened by metal detectors when they enter congressional buildings. After the Capitol riot, however, some members said they felt unsafe in the House chamber. There were reports of House members carrying guns there, which is not allowed under House rules. In response, Speaker Pelosi ordered metal detectors set up outside the doors to the chamber.
While these detectors were present, there was no way to force members to use them or to comply with Capitol Police officers who were doing the screening. This week, the House voted to impose fines on members who do not complete a security check before entering the House chamber. The first offense will be $5,000 and subsequent offenses will be $10,000. If members do not pay, the amounts will be deducted from their paychecks.
Supporters of this measure argue that it is dangerous for members to carry guns on the floor of the House. They contend that with rising tensions in Congress, members should not be armed. Imposing a security check is the only way to guarantee this. Opponents, however, decry this measure as a break from long-standing tradition. They note that the presence of metal detectors imply that some members of Congress are a threat to others -- a charge these members denounce. They also note that there are constitutional questions with the imposition of fines on House members.
It remains to be seen if opposing House members will comply with security checks, even with a fine looming. With constitutional questions about the ability to collect the fine, some may seek to challenge this new rule in court.
The vote was 216-210 in favor of the resolution.
Do you support fining House members $10,000 if they do not complete a security check before entering the House chamber?