This story was reported by Quinn Weimer, Emma Riley, and A. Kim.
(CNS News) – House Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.), along with 41 other House members, sent a letter on Feb. 5 to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urging her “to remove the barbed wire fencing surrounding the Capitol and send the National Guard troops home to their families.” To date, Pelosi has not responded to the congressmens’ letter.
“[W]e are concerned with recent reports that the fencing surrounding the Capitol may become permanent,” wrote Rep. Budd and his colleagues in the letter to Pelosi. “We are willing to have an honest debate about providing Capitol Hill Police with the resources they need to be better prepared without turning the Capitol into a permanent fortress."
"To that end, we urge you to remove the barbed wire fencing surrounding the Capitol and send the National Guard troops home to their families," wrote Budd. "It’s time. It’s time for healing and it's time for the removal of the fencing so the nation may move forward.”
The seven-foot-high metal fence, which is crowned with razor wire, snakes around Capitol Hill for more than three miles and was installed following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) says the razor wire on the fence makes it look like a “concentration camp.”
The fate of the fence is in Pelosi’s hands, along with the Acting House Sergeant of Arms, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the architect of the Capitol, the doorkeeper, and the Capitol Police chief. They comprise what is called the Capitol Police Board.
The announcement about the fence was made on Jan. 7 by Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy at a press conference with D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Acting D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. McCarthy also said then that 6,200 National Guard members would be deployed to the national capital region, reported The Washington Post.
The imposing, unscalable fence runs for more than three miles, encircling the U.S. Capitol, the Botanical Gardens, the three major Senate office buildings, the three major House office buildings, the U.S. Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. The National guard troops patrol from behind the fence, inside the perimeter.
Only the U.S. Capitol was breached on Jan. 6, none of the other buildings now surrounded by the fence. (However, left-wing protesters did storm the Supreme Court and pound on its doors during the confirmation hearing of Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh in October 2018.)
At this point it is not known how long the fence will stay in place. The Capitol Police have said they want the fence to remain until at least September, according to Just the News. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has said she wants the fencing to come down.
2/ When the time is right, the fencing around the White House and U.S. Capitol, just like the plywood we’ve seen on our businesses for too long, will be taken down.— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) January 28, 2021
Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer have indicated that they will make a decision about possibly removing the fence or implementing alternative security measures after March 5. Pelosi has directed retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to lead a security review of the Capitol and his report is due on that date.
“Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer have said they want to await an outside security review that is expected to be completed next month,” reported The Washington Post. “’I would tend to defer to the experts as to what is the safest way to be,’ Mr. Schumer told The Post. ‘The speaker,’ her spokesman said, ‘looks forward to General Honoré’s final assessment in order to understand what infrastructure changes are necessary to ensure the safety of the U.S. Capitol Complex.”
Schumer to @igorbobic on permanent security fencing around the Capitol as proposed by the acting Capitol Police chief. “I would tend to defer to the experts as to what is the safest way to be. We’ll see, I don’t know, I’ll have to look at it. I haven’t heard their proposal yet.— Manu Raju (@mkraju) January 28, 2021
In his Feb. 5 letter to Pelosi, Rep. Budd further said, “[I]t is time for Congress and its representatives to stop hiding. The American people see through the double standard. Members of Congress cannot demand more security and protection for themselves after they decried federal law enforcement activity across American cities last summer.”
“[W]e we all understood that some increase in security was necessary after the tragic events of January 6, but now there is no valid reason to continue the same level of security measures,” reads the letter. “It is appalling that Communist China allows their citizens more freedom to visit historical sites like Tiananmen Square than currently exists for Americans who want to visit the Capitol in Washington, D.C.”
Pelosi has yet to respond to the letter. A spokesman for Rep. Budd told CNS News by email, “No, speaker Pelosi never formally responded. Her office simply confirmed they received it. That’s it.”
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who represents D.C., wants the fence removed. "Keeping it up until September shows that the Capitol Police, who could have prevented much that happened on January the 6th simply by calling in reinforcements from the dozen or so police forces, are now doubling down,” Norton told Just the News.
"I've always said when it becomes clear that there are not threats sufficient to keep this fence that I'll take it down,” she said. “Now that we're already seeing calls to take down the wire, the wiring around it, which makes it look like a concentration camp, certainly that can be done now. What are we afraid of, our own shadow?"
CNS News made multiple inquiries by telephone and email to the offices of Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the House sergeant at arms, and the Capitol Police for comment but they did not respond.
The fence has now been up for more than 50 days.
Near the fence, someone posted signs that say, “Congress -- Open the GATES” and “Take Down This Wall.”