Jul 29, 2022 - Politics

Amid rising threats, security increases for members of Congress

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) reacts on July. 21 after seeing footage of herself from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) reacts on July. 21 after seeing footage of herself from the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As violent threats against members of Congress increase, the U.S. House is offering to pay for security upgrades at lawmakers' homes.

Driving the news: The plan to help cover the costs comes the same week that local prosecutors charged a man with stalking U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle.

  • On Wednesday, prosecutors charged 49-year-old Brett Forsell with felony stalking after he allegedly came to Jayapal's Seattle home yelling obscenities and telling her to go "back to India." Police said Forsell was armed at the time.
  • A witness also said she thought she heard Forsell threaten to kill Jayapal, according to a police report.

Details: Starting Aug. 15, the House sergeant-at-arms office will cover security equipment and installation costs at House members' personal residences, up to $10,000 per member, report Axios' Erin Doherty and Andrew Solender.

  • On top of that, each lawmaker can qualify for $150 per month in maintenance and monitoring services, according to a memo sent to House members and staff.
  • Covered equipment can include: cameras, exterior lighting, motion sensors and enhanced locks, among other systems.

Zoom out: Jayapal isn't the only lawmaker to face recent threats.

  • Last week, a man was charged with assault after police said he tried to stab GOP Rep. ​​Lee Zeldin at a campaign event.
  • Overall, reports of threats against lawmakers increased by 144% between 2017 and 2021, according to data shared with Axios.

The big picture: Since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Congress and the Capitol Police have pursued a range of strategies to bolster lawmakers' security.

What they're saying: Jayapal's office wouldn't comment on whether she will use the new pot of money to improve security at her home.

  • In a written statement, she praised local prosecutors for their decision to charge Forsell, saying "it demonstrates that the justice system is doing its work."
  • The offices of U.S. Reps. Marilyn Strickland, Rick Larsen, Adam Smith and Derek Kilmer didn’t immediately respond to inquiries from Axios Seattle about whether the lawmakers are considering new home security upgrades.

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