Proposal to build permanent fence around the Capitol meets resistance


WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 16: The U.S. Capitol is seen behind a fence with razor wire during sunrise on January 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. After last week’s riots at the U.S. Capitol Building, the FBI has warned of additional threats in the nation’s capital and in all 50 states. According to reports, as many as 25,000 National Guard soldiers will be guarding the city as preparations are made for the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th U.S. President. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

(CNN) — A recommendation from the acting chief of the US Capitol Police for permanent fencing and other enhanced security measures around the US Capitol in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection has been met with resistance from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and from the mayor of Washington.

Acting chief Yogananda Pittman proposed permanent fencing in a statement provided to reporters Thursday, but DC Mayor Muriel Bowser quickly slammed the idea and said the city will not “accept extra troops or permanent fencing as a long-term fixture in DC.”

The proposal for permanent fencing comes weeks after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, leaving 5 people dead and extensive damage to the property.

“In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” Pittman said.

She continued: “I look forward to working with Congress on identifying the security improvements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Congress and the U.S. Capitol.”

Bowser acknowledged the need for extra security for upcoming events but made it clear she did not want those enhanced measures to be permanent.

“Based on conversations with federal partners, there are some potentially volatile events upcoming that will require extra security. Fencing and the presence of troops will be a part of that,” Bowser tweeted. “But we will not accept extra troops or permanent fencing as a long-term fixture in DC. When the time is right, the fencing around the White House and U.S. Capitol, just like the plywood we’ve seen on our businesses for too long, will be taken down.”

Democratic Rep. Jake Auchincloss, a Massachusetts freshman, tweeted that it would be a “mistake to turn the home of our democracy into a fortress. The Capitol needs to be safely open for constituents, press, and visitors.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, also spoke out against the idea on Twitter. “This is the People’s House. I am adamantly opposed. There has been no threat briefing given to Members of Congress to justify this proposal,” she tweeted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — who told reporters earlier Thursday that “the enemy is within the House of Representatives” — did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on the fencing.

The California Democrat met with retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who is conducting a security review of the Capitol, on Thursday but provided few details.

“I was pleased to be briefed on the General’s initial assessment which covered operational readiness, interagency cooperation, security infrastructure and the morale and readiness of institutional staff. As we consider the need for an emergency supplemental funding bill to meet institutional security needs, I want to thank the General for reviewing what is necessary for the Capitol Police to do their jobs,” Pelosi said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

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