Mar 25, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: House chamber hardened with bulletproof doors

Architect of the Capitol staff assessing House chamber entryway.

Photo: Kadia Goba/Axios

The House chamber is being transformed into a massive safe room for members with the addition of bulletproof doors.

Why it matters: One of the most dramatic images from the Jan. 6 attack was Capitol Police officers inside the chamber holding protesters at bay by pointing their guns at them after they broke windows in the doors. The new doors will provide fresh fortification.

Details: An Axios reporter leaving the Capitol on Wednesday night saw workers removing doors on one of the double-doored entrances to the gallery one level above the floor of the chamber. Some members huddled there on Jan. 6.

  • Workers revealed the new doors being installed would be fortified with kevlar — the same synthetic material used in bulletproof vests and military helmets.
  • The House currently is on recess for two more weeks, and the workers said the modifications will continue beyond the members' return. There are five sets of doors directly onto the floor and 15 into the gallery.
  • No other details were immediately available from the Architect of the Capitol, which maintains the historic building.
Capitol Police Officers are seen holding back protesters from breaking through the doors of the House Chamber on Jan. 6.
Police officers protecting an entrance to the House floor on Jan. 6. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Driving the news: Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tasked with leading a post-insurrection review of Capitol security, recommended in his report that the Architect "expedite repair and hardening of vulnerable windows and doors."

  • Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill told Axios the door project was planned ahead of Jan 6.

Flashback: During the Capitol siege, plainclothes officers barricaded some of the floor-level doors with furniture to prevent rioters from breaching the House chamber.

  • While they held back the crowd, members were evacuated to a secure location through other doors.
  • At one point, an officer shot and killed a protester who tried to climb through a broken window on a door leading into the Speaker's Lobby — located just off the chamber floor.
Members are seen huddling in the gallery overlooking the House floor on Jan. 6.
Members huddling in the House Gallery on Jan. 6. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Editor’s note: Updated with comment from Speaker Pelosi’s spokesperson.

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