Democrats push to end security exemption on Capitol Hill as Republicans demand the right to carry guns
House Democrats are calling on President Joe Biden to name a new architect of the Capitol who would force members of Congress to go through security screenings.
February 28, 2023
WASHINGTON — Staff Sgt. Aquilino Gonell recently retired from the U.S. Capitol Police after he was injured in the Jan. 6 attack. But he remains worried about one, seemingly small, security gap on Capitol Hill that could lead to a big problem.
Members of Congress and, often, the people they enter the Capitol with are not screened by security when they enter the Capitol complex.
“Oh, it is disturbing,” Gonell said. “The protocol is for them to pass around security.”
Staff members of the House Administration Committee confirmed that members and their guests are not required to be screened. Capitol Police declined to comment.
Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., has raised alarm bells about allowing members to bypass security, and, in a letter shared exclusively with NBC News, he is asking President Joe Biden to appoint a new architect of the Capitol to change it.
"It makes all of us less safe," Huffman said, noting that the architect of the Capitol sits on the three-member Capitol Police Board, which could change or better enforce the rules.
The position is vacant after Biden fired Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton this month after an inspector general’s report found he had misused his authority. Blanton used his government-issued vehicle for personal reasons and falsely presented himself as a member of law enforcement, the inspector general found.
Huffman and 13 other House Democrats signed the letter to Biden, saying, "It is imperative that the next Architect of the Capitol be mindful of threats from both outside and inside the Capitol complex and enforce rules barring Members of Congress from carrying firearms."
The White House has not said whom will it appoint.
Some Republicans have grown more vocal about their desire to carry firearms around the Capitol complex.
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By: Ryan Nobles and Haley Talbot
Source: NBC News
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