Republicans demanded Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pay a $5,000 fine for bypassing the metal detectors around the House chamber last week, saying “multiple” lawmakers saw her break her own new rules.
In a letter to the House’s acting sergeant at arms, Republicans on the House Administration Committee said security camera footage can back up their accounts of the Feb. 4 incident with “irrefutable proof.”
“Speaker Pelosi needs to pay the fine for breaking her own security rules, and the fines need to be equally enforced by the sergeant at arms,” said the Republicans, led by the top member of the committee, Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois.
Mrs. Pelosi’s office, in response to inquiries, pointed to a response letter Sergeant at Arms Timothy P. Blodgett sent back late Thursday saying it’s up to Capitol Police to flag a violation.
He said leaving it up to officers, who are trained to know what a security violation looks like, is the best way to ensure “consistency in security screening.”
“Since they are conducting the screening and applying their screening policies, they are the entity to determine if screening is successfully completed,” he said.
He added: “I place my trust in the officers of the United States Capitol Police.”
The new security screening, which forces all lawmakers to go through metal detectors before entering the House chamber, was instituted in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
While the mob came from outside, Mrs. Pelosi has warned the “enemy is within.”
In the early days of the screening, there were confrontations between lawmakers and the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) officers running the checkpoints.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, then led the House in passing a new rule imposing a $5,000 fine for refusing to comply with the screening. A second offense earns a $10,000 fine.
The Republicans, in their letter, said Mrs. Pelosi was observed breaking that protocol on Feb. 4 — just two days after the House fines were approved.
They had written Mr. Blodgett on Feb. 5, asking him to assess the fine.
“What was observed was a clear violation of House Resolution 73 and you are required by House Rules to impose this fine. Please inform us once the fine has been assessed,” they wrote.
Mr. Blodgett replied that same day, saying nobody from the police flagged a violation by Mrs. Pelosi, and he suggested the lawmakers may have been mistaken in what they saw, so he couldn’t assess a fine.
“Only the USCP can determine whether an individual has failed to complete security screening as only the USCP has sufficient training to determine compliance with USCP screening procedures,” he wrote.
He said his system calls for officers to write up any incidents, and none was filed on Mrs. Pelosi.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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