Chairman McGovern Tells Members on the House Floor: “The Rules Apply to Us, Too - and It’s Time All of Us Acted Like It”
Supports rule change mandating fines for Members who refuse to follow new safety protocols for the House Chamber
WASHINGTON, DC —On the House Floor this afternoon, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) spoke about the importance of implementing a rule change being considered today that will mandate fines for Members who refuse to follow new screening protocols for House Chamber. The fines will take effect once the rule being considered this evening is passed by the House.
Chairman McGovern’s remarks are below, video of his remarks is available here:
M. Speaker, just outside these doors is something students walk through every day to prevent gun violence in their schools; something travelers pass through every time they board a plane; and something the public goes through every time they enter a federal building: Magnetometers, M. Speaker. Metal detectors.
They’re a modern day inconvenience that we’re all used to. And frankly, they’re a small price to pay to keep Americans safe. Metal detectors were installed outside this chamber following the recent deadly insurrection in the Capitol. Although these machines are new, the policy they are enforcing is not. That has been on the books for more than 50 years.
President Johnson signed a law outlawing weapons on Capitol Grounds back in 1967. The Capitol Police Board, the entity that oversees security regulations in this complex, then issued regulations soon after. They prohibited firearms from being carried into the Chambers, and in the connecting rooms and galleries.
Some Members, like myself, want to see these regulations go further. Representatives Huffman and Speier have been instrumental on this front. And I hope we act. Others want no prohibitions at all. But regardless, the rules are the rules, M. Speaker.
I thought that was clear. But apparently, some of my friends on the other side think differently. Some are acting as though by being elected to Congress, they have been anointed to some sort of special club - one that gets to pick and choose what rules to follow.
A Member on the other side ran an ad depicting her walking around our Nation’s Capital with a loaded firearm, tweeting, “Let me tell you why I WILL carry my Glock to Congress.” Another Republican recently bragged that he “was armed” during the recent riots. A third was stopped by Capitol Police bringing a gun into this chamber. I could go on, M. Speaker.
We have people in this chamber who have posted disturbing rhetoric against Members of this body. These words and actions raise serious safety concerns.
These metal detectors are manned by the same police officers who saved our lives during the insurrection while risking their own.
Yet, some Members on the other side have disrespected these Capitol Police officers; verbally abused them, pushed them aside, and disregarded their orders. All to avoid this basic safety measure! That is no way to treat our heroes!
Some of these very same Members have been quick to send press releases and cut advertisements about the need to respect the police. But here in these halls, when they think no one is watching, apparently their message is different: it’s do as I say, not as I do.
This is why we must act today. This is no messaging bill – this is as serious as it gets. This elitist mentality must end. Apparently, it will take a rules change to ensure all Members follow the rules, just like everyone else.
Included in this measure is language to change the rules to fine Members who interfere with the Capitol Police’s ability to do their jobs at the magnetometers outside this Chamber. $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each one thereafter.
This is modeled after a change my Republican friends made in the 115th Congress, which fined Members for taking photos or videos on the Floor. We are taking steps to make sure this process is transparent and fair. Violations will be posted online, and Members will have the chance to have their appeal considered by the bipartisan Ethics Committee.
And let me assure all Americans that these fines will be paid directly by Members.
Now, M. Speaker, I’m not a mind reader. But I’ve been here long enough to know how this debate will go. Some on the other side will act as though this is some grand inconvenience. Tell that to the millions of Americans who go through metal detectors every day in this country! Why are you any different? Give me a break!
We need to protect not just Members, but the staff, our constituents, and the public who visit the People’s House. That’s why I urge all my colleagues to support this change.
The rules apply to us, too - and it’s time all of us acted like it.