By JOHN PARKINSON and BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — Just days after last week’s riot, Republicans are decrying new metal detectors Capitol Police placed outside the doors to the House of Representatives chamber as a violation of their Second Amendment rights.
The new security measure, implemented Tuesday afternoon, requires all members and staff pass through the magnetometers before they go onto the House floor, where on Wednesday the Trump impeachment debate was underway, and near where gunfire rang out near Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office last Wednesday.
Democrats, in control of the chamber, say they worry about their safety and a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the detectors were installed on her orders.
On the House floor Tuesday evening, Republicans expressed their opposition to the new metal detectors, accusing Democrats of trying to score political points while diverting Capitol Police resources. Pelosi, however, doubled down on her new rule a day later with the threat of hefty fines.
Florida Republican Rep. Greg Steube called the new security measures “appalling” and warned the new protocol is “what you have to look forward to in a Biden administration.”
“Don’t touch me,” Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., told a Capitol Police officer as he entered the chamber.
GOP Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, a conservative whose insistence on carrying her Glock pistol around Capitol Hill has alarmed Democrats — as well as some members of her own party — refused to allow Capitol Police officers to search her bag.
After a couple of minutes, she was allowed into the chamber, but it’s not clear if she was searched, according to pool reporters on the scene.
“This is horses—” Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, told House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer in front of reporters.
“Rodney, we’re all going through magnetometers,” Hoyer, D-Md., replied.
“I just went through one. You know the threat on the interior side of the building. You’ll taking valuable resources completely away from where it needs to be, and you did it without any consultation with the minority,” Davis shot back.
Despite the protests, Pelosi said Wednesday night that the new measures will remain and the House will vote on Jan. 21 on a rule that would fine any member who refuses to abide by them. If the vote passes, violators will be fined $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for the second offense, with the money coming directly from the member’s salary, the speaker said in a statement.
“Sadly, just days later, many House Republicans have disrespected our heroes by verbally abusing them and refusing to adhere to basic precautions keeping members of our Congressional community, including the Capitol Police, safe,” she said in a statement.
At the beginning of each session of Congress, every member receives a packet of official documents, including items such as their member pins required for security access and license plates. They also must sign a form acknowledging receipt of the packet, which includes “Capitol Police Board Firearms Regulations.”
“Members are reminded that pursuant to the firearms regulations that Members received on opening day, firearms are restricted to a Member’s Office,” acting Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy Blodget wrote in a memo Tuesday.
In an interview last week, freshman Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina revealed he was armed with a firearm during the assault on the Capitol — an apparent violation of the firearm regulations.
“We didn’t have our Capitol police escort so there were multiple times we needed to change the route we were taking just to be safe,” Cawthorn told the Smokey Mountain News as he described his evacuation from the House chamber. “Fortunately, I was armed, so we would have been able to protect ourselves.”
At just 25 years old, Cawthorn is the youngest member of Congress. Tuesday night, reporters noted that he was searched as he entered the House chamber.
“It’s [C]ongressman Cawthorn’s general posture to practice his Second Amendment rights, as well as the rights afforded to him as a member of Congress,” a spokesman told ABC News. “Congressman Cawthorn also abides by all Capitol Police regulations that he is made aware of.”
Currently, visitors and staff are screened when they enter the Capitol building, but before Tuesday, members were never screened before they entered the chamber.
There are already metal detectors in place for visitors to the House galleries, which have been shuttered since March because of the pandemic.
ABC News’ Ivan Pereira contributed to this report.
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