Lawmakers who blow off Capitol safety rules will finally be punished


Members who refuse to comply will now be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each offense after that.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to approve a rule fining members who refuse to go through metal detectors and other security screening protocols before entering the chamber in the wake of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that left five dead.

Lawmakers who ignore the safety measures will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and then $10,000 for each offense after that. The House sergeant-at-arms will issue the fines, and members will have 90 days to pay for them. After the allotted time, the amount due will be subtracted from their government salaries, the Washington Post reported.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi first introduced the proposal in January, saying the House would vote on it once it was back in session.

Several GOP lawmakers have been defiant in complying with the safety screenings.

In January, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) pushed past Capitol Police officers to get into the chamber without passing through the magnetometer, saying, "You can't stop me; I'm on my way to a vote," according to a HuffPost reporter.

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) set off the metal detector last month, the outlet reported in a separate story. Officers found a firearm on Harris after scanning him with a metal detector wand.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) has also refused to follow the rules, telling Fox News, "I did not comply tonight. I will not comply in the future." He referred to the measures as "unnecessary" and "unconstitutional," and claimed they "endanger[ed] members."

Pro-gun Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) had a contentious standoff with Capitol Police when she set off a metal detector and then refused to let officers search her purse. On Tuesday night, Boebert's chief of staff emailed other congressional aides, saying the proposed fines were "unconstitutional" and urging their lawmakers to vote against the new fines, the Post reported.

Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Randy Weber (R-TX), like Gohmert, have simply walked around the magnetometers to get to the chamber floor, according to the Post.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL) called the devices "appalling" and an "atrocity" in a floor speech.

Pelosi had a heated response when asked about lawmakers who had flouted the safety measures.

In a Tuesday statement, she noted that they were "disrespecting our heroes by refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our Congressional community safe."

"It is beyond comprehension why any Member would refuse to adhere to these simple, commonsense steps to keep this body safe," she added.

The rule change comes weeks after a deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, during which pro-Donald Trump extremists stormed the building, scaling walls, breaking windows, and ransacking congressional offices. The mob, spurred on by Trump, who had told them beforehand at a rally that they would "never take back our country with weakness" and suggested he would march to the Capitol with them, also threatened to execute former Vice President Mike Pence, who was there that day to oversee the vote to certify President Joe Biden's Electoral College win.

The House took other safety measures and precautions in the aftermath of that violence, including a proposal to impose fines for members who refuse to wear masks on the floor.

Several members of Congress became infected after sheltering during the attacks with Republican lawmakers who had declined to don face coverings.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.