Fencing on Capitol Hill May Be ‘Placeholders’ for Permanent Barricades, Top GOP Legislators Suggest
Five top GOP senators are demanding an explanation from the acting Capitol Police chief about the fencing and security on Capitol Hill that have been there since the Jan. 6 Capitol building breach. They criticized the continued measures and urged an immediate review, suggesting that the current fencing could be a “placeholder” for something more permanent.
In a letter to Yogananda Pittman, acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, the lawmakers questioned the necessity of the security surrounding Capitol grounds, and asked Pittman to respond to their questions by March 19, including what intelligence the Capitol Police had ahead of Jan. 6, and what justification there was for the current fencing.
The senators said that Capitol Police has since Jan. 6, “repeatedly failed to provide specific, credible threat intelligence to adequately justify the current Capitol security posture, which remains disproportionate to the available intelligence.”
The letter was signed by Sens. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).
The senators said that it is “entirely unclear to us why the fencing around the complex remains, given the absence of any current specific threat to the Capitol and given the ability to rapidly re-deploy fencing should that threat posture change.”
“Strangely, though, recent indications are that the physical barriers currently surrounding the Capitol are mere placeholders pending the permanent installation of similar barricades across the complex,” they added.
The Capitol Police did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment over the assertion.
The idea of permanent fencing on Capitol Hill has been long resisted by residents, city officials, as well as members of Congress in Washington, D.C., the lawmakers said. Furthermore, the fencing that’s currently installed “sends a terrible message” to Americans as well as U.S. allies and enemies, and is “not a long-term security solution,” they said.
The senators also criticized the Pentagon-approved extension of guardsmen deployment, saying that the decision was made “with little apparent questioning of the justification.” They asserted that there was “no specific underlying threat intelligence and no mission task analysis.”
The Pentagon recently extended the National Guard deployment at the Capitol so that a reduced number of 2,280 personnel will stay through May 23.
“This request will cost the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars and further strain the Guard and its brave men and women,” the five senators said.
The letter came just one day after the House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Republican ranking member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) released a joint statement calling for a further reduction of troops on Capitol Hill.
“We are deeply troubled by the current level of security around the United States Capitol. More than two months after the January 6 attack, the seat of our nation’s democracy remains heavily protected by guardsmen and surrounded by a perimeter fence,” Smith and Rogers said.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.