WASHINGTON – The House left town early, the Senate continued to debate a $ 1.9 trillion bill for coronavirus relief, and U.S. Capitol Police were bracing for a potential security threat Thursday as as possible follow-up to the January 6 uprising.
On Wednesday, Capitol Police issued a statement warning of a “possible plot to violate the Capitol by a group of unidentified militiamen.” Downtown businesses have warned tenants against possible protests.
“The USCP is committed to ensuring that an incident of this nature does not happen again, in particular by realizing that the possibility of a similar incident occurring in the current environment is a very real and present danger,” Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers on Wednesday.
National Guard troops formed a more visible presence at the U.S. Capitol complex Thursday morning, with hundreds of soldiers disembarking from a dozen large tour buses while carrying long guns, helmets and backpacks.
Overall security on Capitol Hill, which was tightened after the January 6 riot, appeared weeks after that insurgency. Two large fences topped with barbed wire surrounded the perimeter of the complex. The troops line the fences.
Representative Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., Said in a Tweeter that the United States Capitol Police have asked the National Guard for a 60-day extension of its mission, so the guard is asking the states to send in contributions. The current mission was scheduled to end on March 12, she said.
Troops and law enforcement officers still guard access points, checking vehicles and security badges of people seeking to enter the complex.
The threat comes nearly two months after the riot on the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters, which left five people dead. Rioters attacked police officers and threatened the lives of former Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., On the day Congress counted the electoral college votes for the presidential election from 2020.
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Pelosi: Votes moved to help GOP timeline
Pelosi described the March 4 speech as an alternate inauguration day as “silliness” and said his chamber avoided voting on Thursday out of courtesy to Republicans rather than as a safety measure.
“If there are in fact troublemakers around, that makes sense,” Pelosi, D-Calif., Said at his weekly press conference. “I don’t think anyone should be encouraged to say that because some troublemakers might show up, we’ve changed our schedule. No, we just moved it a few hours.
An unsubstantiated conspiracy theory from QAnon argued that former President Donald Trump would be invested on March 4 because that was when administrations changed before the 20th Amendment was approved in the 1930s.
QAnon falsely alleges the existence of a satanic “deep state” apparatus that supports a child sex trafficking ring. His supporters played a leading role in the riot at the United States Capitol on January 6, allegedly instigated by Trump.
Related:What is QAnon?
But Pelosi said the conspiracy theory had nothing to do with leaving the House on Wednesday.
“The silliness of this inauguration day and the President’s inauguration falls into the realm of not wasting our time on it,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi said Democrats held their annual issues conference virtually earlier in the week. But Republicans were planning to meet in person on Thursday, so the House would end the vote at noon that day and chose to end the week on Wednesday instead, she said.
“It was really just for the sake of convenience,” Pelosi said.
She said the House would consider more permanent security measures next week, in response to the January 6 riot that left five dead and 140 police officers injured. Lieutenant-General Russel Honoré conducted a security review and briefed Congressional leaders.
Pelosi said lawmakers should strike a balance between better security and public access to the Capitol complex, despite threats from supporters of former President Donald Trump.
“We have to make sure that we are safe enough to do our jobs, but without getting in the way,” Pelosi said.
After:Police bolster security at U.S. Capitol as QAnon theory claims Trump will become president on March 4
Second-ranked Democrat in the Senate, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, said it was understandable that people were concerned about another attack. But he said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., did not come to the same conclusion the House had on ending the debate earlier this week.
Contribution: Christal Hayes, Nicholas Wu