House chamber metal detector fight puts Capitol Police in difficult position amid Pelosi-GOP clash over fines

Tray Ling

This may get nasty. And, it could put the U.S. Capitol Police, already reeling from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, in a really bad position. The main reason: no one in junior high school likes hall monitors. They’re tattletales. Teacher’s pets. Authorized to come down on their fellow […]

This may get nasty.

And, it could put the U.S. Capitol Police, already reeling from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, in a really bad position.

The main reason: no one in junior high school likes hall monitors. They’re tattletales. Teacher’s pets. Authorized to come down on their fellow students – or, perhaps show deference to their friends from the “in” crowd.

The honor roll students and starting quarterback never get written up by the hall monitor. But those who have a reputation for causing trouble always do.

CALLS FOR PELOSI TO PAY FINE SHE IMPOSED AFTER BYPASSING METAL DETECTOR INTENSIFY

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., ordered security officials to install magnetometers at each entrance to the House chamber after the riot. That sparked arguments between USCP officers guarding the doors as members tried to enter the chamber to vote. Some members just cruised right past the metal detectors, drawing the ire of Capitol Police officers – to say nothing of their colleagues.

Pelosi said lawmakers were concerned about fellow lawmakers “being a danger” to one another, adding that “the enemy is within” the House.

The speaker didn’t say who was a problem. But there continues to be chatter as to whether members led “surveillance tours” for some of the rioters before they sacked the Capitol on Jan. 6. Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., made a video days before the riot, touting her Second Amendment rights and parading around Washington, DC. It was a show of defiance to the city’s strict gun laws. In an interview with Fox, Boebert later denied she led any reconnaissance tours ahead of time. Boebert said she just showed around family. Some Democrats fear their colleagues across the aisle. Most Republicans think that is a lot of bunk.

The House voted last week to fine members who ditch security en route to the chamber. $5,000 for a first offense. $10,000 for a second offense. The House has the right to garnish a House member’s wages. Members are forbidden from paying the penalty with campaign donations or money the House allocates to each member to run their congressional offices.

GOP REP. GOHMERT RIPS DEMS OVER METAL DETECTOR FINE

Now the House has fined two members for allegedly ducking security: Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Andrew Clyde, R-Ga.. But Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. the leading GOPer on the House Administration Committee, believes someone else is should face a financial sanction: Pelosi.

“We expect rules to be implemented fairly,” Davis said on Fox News.

Davis along with Reps. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., and Bryan Steil, R-Wisc., wrote Acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodgett about Pelosi.

“(Thursday), at approximately 9:59 am, multiple members observed the Speaker of the House entering the House Chamber without completing security screening,” the trio wrote to Blodgett. “What we observed is a clear violation of House Resolution 73 and you are required by House Rules to impose this fine. Please inform us once this fine as been assessed.”

Rules for thee. But not for me, the GOPers claim.

Blodgett replied to the Republicans. He noted that he can assess a fine for members “after receiving an unusual occurrence report from the Untied States Capitol Police.” As to the alleged Pelosi incident, Blodgett told the Republicans “only the USCP can determine whether an individual has failed to complete security screening.”

In other words, the Capitol Police are now hall monitors, watching over members. This ranges from the lowliest freshman to the Speaker of the House.

As though tensions between members and USCP officers aren’t running high enough after 1/6.

“I have not received any unusual incident report from the USCP concerning the Speaker of the House,” Blodgett wrote.

Gohmert took to the floor Friday night to lodge his grievances about receiving a fine. Gohmert said he was on the floor. Then left to head to the men’s room just off the Speaker’s Lobby. But Gohmert said apparently officers wanted to check him again before returning to the floor after doing his business. The Texas Republican invoked a famous scene in the “Godfather” where Michael Corleone hides a gun in the tank of a commode in a Italian restaurant in the Bronx.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 12: U.S. Capitol Police install a metal detector outside the House of Representatives Chamber, on the very spot where less than a week earlier violent insurrectionists attempted to smash their way through and halt the certification of the Electoral College votes, January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. At the direction of President Donald Trump, the mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and security has been tightened ahead of next week’s presidential inauguration. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“There are no tanks on the toilets. No place to hide a gun that I’ve seen,” said Gohmert of the men’s room by the Speaker’s Lobby. “Apparently the rules have changed over the last few weeks. All of a sudden yesterday, I was told, well, ‘You need to be wanded.’”

On Fox, Clyde suggested that the metal detectors were a method for Pelosi to drive “the narrative” that “Republicans are the enemy within.”

Moreover, Clyde suggested that stopping members to check them for weapons “is unconstitutional.” He asserted that “every congressman has the right to enter the House floor, unimpeded.”

Clyde may be onto something here. The freshman congressman is referring to what’s called “The Speech or Debate Clause.” Article I, Section 6 of the Constitution says that lawmakers are “privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same; and, for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”

In short, the Founders hoped to inoculate lawmakers from authorities hassling them as they conducted official, congressional business.

GOP LAWMAKERS SAY PELOSI SHOULD BE FINED FOR VIOLATING NEW HOUSE SECURITY MEASURES 

But, Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution states the following: “Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour.”

The House last week voted to sanction members if they failed to pass through security en route to the chamber.

Some Republicans argued with police officers when the House first installed the metal detectors. Democrats asserted that Republicans were really better at sloganeering when it came to “law and order” and “backing the blue.” But when it came time to take an order from officers, such as passing through the mags, some berated the police – or disregarded orders altogether.

This is not a position in which officers want to find themselves. Some USCP officers have been deferential for years to lawmakers – only coming down hard on staff and journalists in the Capitol complex. Never members.

Now we’ll see which members wrack of up fines. And, if officers guarding the chamber apply the new rule evenly.

Republicans contend this is a can of worms. Democrats assert it’s about security. And wait to see when a lawmaker gets fined, rushing to the floor to make a vote which is about to close.

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