While local and federal officials are in conversation about length of time necessary to maintain the current security posture around the Capitol complex, Acting US Capitol Police (USCP) Chief Yogananda Pittman reported a new security threat to lawmakers Thursday.
During the Feb. 25th House hearing, Pittman spoke about ongoing threats to the Capitol and to Congress, CNN reported. Specifically, she said USCP was aware of a militia group’s threat to blow up the Capitol complex during President Biden’s State of the Union address.
“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6 have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members as possible,” Pittman said.
It’s notable that the date set for Biden to address Congress has not yet been announced.
Pittman emphasized that those who targeted the Capitol were not just concerned with people, but sending a strong message to the nation.
“We know that the insurrectionists that attacked the Capitol weren’t only interested in attacking members of Congress and officers,” she added. “They wanted to send a symbolic message to the nation as to who is in charge of that legislative process.”
Pittman referred to the Capitol fencing as “temporary infrastructure” in the hearing, but said that ensuring safety will remain the top priority.
“Our priority is to make sure that the members of Congress are safe, and that democratic process is protected,” Pittman said. “Once we have appropriate infrastructure and human assets in place we will lean forward with the removal of the fencing.”
The House hearing and Pittman’s announcement come days after the DC Council penned a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) citing community concerns about the fencing.
The letter notes that the fence has caused “significant delays” in the District’s emergency response system requiring police, fire and ambulances to take less direct routes. Additionally, the council members outlined that transportation for residents for work, school and healthcare access have also been impacted by the fencing and additional security measures.
“It was not the lack of a permeate fence or hardened perimeter that led to the breach of the Capitol by armed insurrectionists,” the letter reads. “It was the overlooking or dismissing of the widely known planning by extremist groups that took place out in the open.”
Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with Capital Community News. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.