Pelosi pledges hiked security for Congress against ‘enemy within’

Speaker refers to new members of legislature who ‘want to bring guns on the floor’

House speaker Nancy Pelosi. ‘Trump must be tried and convicted to ensure that no future president will ever think it’s okay to incite insurrection.’ Photograph: Anna MoneymakerNew York Times

House speaker Nancy Pelosi. ‘Trump must be tried and convicted to ensure that no future president will ever think it’s okay to incite insurrection.’ Photograph: Anna MoneymakerNew York Times

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House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to increase security for members of Congress in the wake of this month’s attack on the US Capitol, suggesting that the legislative body faces threats from within its own ranks.

Speaking at her weekly press conference about the security breach that took place at the Capitol on January 6th, Ms Pelosi said “the enemy is within”. Asked to explain her comment, she said: “It means that we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.” 

Several Republicans have opposed new security measures to screen members entering the House chamber in the wake of the attacks. Two new members – Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, a supporter of the QAnon conspiracy movement, and Lauren Boebert from Colorado – have defended their right to bear arms.

Ms Pelosi took aim in particular at Ms Greene, following reports that in social media posts she supported calls in 2018 and 2019 for prominent Democrats, including Ms Pelosi, to be executed.

The House speaker lambasted Republicans for appointing the new Congresswoman to the House education committee, noting her apparent support for conspiracy theories surrounding the Sandy Hook and Parkland school shootings.

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“It’s absolutely appalling, and I think the focus has to be on the Republican leadership of this House of Representatives for the disregard they have for the deaths of those children,” said Ms Pelosi.

Trump impeachment

Ms Pelosi also defended her decision to bring impeachment charges against former president Donald Trump, amid growing signs from the Senate that Republicans will not vote to convict him. Mr Trump became the first president in history to be impeached twice when the House passed an article of impeachment against him on January 13th for his perceived role in inciting the Capitol Hill riot. But a two-thirds majority is needed to convict him in the Senate.

“Trump must be tried and convicted to ensure that no future president will ever think it’s okay to incite insurrection, to stop the ascertainment of who the next president of the United States will be by falsely inflaming people ... about the outcome of the election,” she told reporters.

House minority leader Kevin McCarthy met Mr Trump in Florida on Thursday, the first face-to-face meeting between the former president and a senior Republican figure since he left the White House last week. In a statement afterwards, Mr Trump’s newly formed political committee said the two men discussed the 2022 midterm elections, adding: “President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today.”

Permanent security

With heavy security still in place around the Capitol Hill complex, the acting Capitol Hill police chief Yogananda Pittman warned the new security arrangements may become permanent. “Vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing,” she said.

Meanwhile, US president Joe Biden signed executive orders on Thursday aiming to expand healthcare provision for Americans by reopening the enrolment period for health insurance for three months. The enrolment period is typically restricted to the autumn, but the temporary reopening will allow people who have lost their health insurance to sign-up for Medicaid and other programmes.

He also signed orders reversing Trump-era restrictions on abortion funding, overturning a ban on using federal money for clinics that advise women on terminations.