Norton said she has contacted Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yoananda Pittman “over the phone and in writing strongly opposing her recommendation for permanent fencing.” The congresswoman has argued that permanent fencing would limit public access to the Capitol.
“In the year 2021, we should not be relying on security theater based on 19th-century ideas when state-of-the-art options and old-fashioned preparation and cooperation among security forces could have prevented the events of January 6,” Norton said in a statement. “My bill banning permanent fencing will help put the needed focus back on security options that don’t wall off the Capitol like a fortress that needs to be protected from the people we represent.”
Congressional lawmakers were forced to flee the Capitol when pro-Trump rioters stormed the complex on Jan. 6. The unprecedented breach prompted several members of Congress to demand an overhaul of security measures.
Authorities installed temporary fencing and other barricades in Washington, D.C., ahead of President Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Pittman, who became acting Capitol police chief just two days after the riot, has called for major upgrades, including the installation of a permanent security fence, to prevent future incidents at the building.
“In light of recent events, I can unequivocally say that vast improvements to the physical security infrastructure must be made to include permanent fencing, and the availability of ready, back-up forces in close proximity to the Capitol,” Pittman said in a statement last month. “I look forward to working with Congress on identifying the security improvements necessary to ensure the safety and security of the Congress and the U.S. Capitol.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., appointed retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré to conduct a review of Capitol security. Several other reviews, both internal and external, are also underway.