Jan 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Members of Congress must pass through metal detectors to access House floor

U.S. Capitol Police install a metal detector outside the doors of the House of Representatives on Jan. 12.

U.S. Capitol Police installing a metal detector outside the doors of the House of Representatives on Jan. 12. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Members of the House of Representatives must now pass through metal detectors before entering the chamber, according to a memo from acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett.

Why it matters: Previously, members were able to enter the chamber without any security screening. The unprecedented measures comes less than a week after the violent assault on the Capitol building by a pro-Trump mob and as some GOP House freshmen have inquired about carrying guns into the Capitol.

  • The memo also reiterated that members are only allowed to have guns in their personal offices. If they try to bring a "prohibited item" to the floor, they will not be allowed to enter the chamber.
  • Members may also be denied entry or removed from the chamber if they fail to wear a mask on the House floor.
  • Some Republicans have been refusing to wear masks. Several members of Congress have tested positive for COVID since having to be in lockdown with those who would not wear masks.

The big picture: House Democrats are pursuing a resolution that would impose fines on members who fail to follow the mask mandate, a senior House Democratic aide tells Axios' Kadia Goba.

  • If approved, members would face a $500 fine for a first offense, and a $2,500 fine for a second office — both of which would be deducted from their pay. A similar fine system is being considered for the entire House side of the Capitol and House office buildings.
Go deeper