Dec 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: House Democrats launch task force on lawmaker security

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Image.

House Democrats are launching a task force on lawmakers' security in response to a rise in threats against members of Congress, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The move comes after a surge in instances of vandalism and other disturbing incidents that House Democrats have faced since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war.

Driving the news: In a "dear colleague" letter sent to House Democrats on Monday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) wrote that the move is "in response to growing security concerns" from members.

  • Jeffries cited "incidents of vandalization impacting district offices, Member events, and quite disturbingly, personal residences."
  • "Passionate advocacy by activists across the ideological spectrum is part of the fabric of a democratic society, unlike in other areas of the world," Jeffries continued. "However, efforts to intimidate public servants and acts of political violence are not acceptable. They will never succeed."

The details: House Administration Committee ranking member Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.) will lead the task force, Jeffries wrote, saying that it will "document the experiences confronting Members, staff and families."

  • It will also "chart a comprehensive path forward to address the safety concerns connected to our service," he added.
  • The task force is in addition to three security-focused briefings for members, chiefs of staff and district directors.
  • The member briefing, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, will include experts from the House Sergeant-at-Arms' office and the Capitol Police, according to an invite obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The recent surge in Israel-related threats comes as part of a broader surge during the Trump era, particularly in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack.

  • Jeffries urged members to "share their perspectives on a set of legislative, administrative and executive steps to address ongoing security challenges that have intensified since ... January 6, 2021 and recent world events."
  • Several lawmakers in both parties have had their congressional offices vandalized with pro-Palestinian graffiti in recent weeks, most recently House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.).
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