Congress Can Agree on Removing the Capitol Fence

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine)  It seems that normally Congress cannot reach a bipartisan consensus; however, this time they have. Many of them believe that the Capitol fence should be taken down. That doesn’t actually mean that it will happen.

It has been a problem ever since the January 6 insurrection as to whether the Capitol fence should remain or should it be removed for the benefit of the visitors. Actually, the fence is unpopular with both the Republicans as well as the Democrats and maintaining the fence could be a financial problem. 

If the fence came down, then there would be difficult decisions to be made about the fortification of the Capitol.

The fortification has already receded, and the remaining fencing is only around the Capitol building itself. The top wire to the fence has come down, and the thousands of National Guard men have departed from the Capitol. “The fate of the existing inner barrier however, is a mystery.”

In the House last month, they set aside millions of dollars for security measures around the Capitol, “such as a retractable fence, while also banning the use of its funds for construction of permanent fencing.” This bill, however, will probably not advance to the Senate because Republicans are not happy with the price tag.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said, “I want the Capitol secured, and I just don’t want it to look like a fortress.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer was asked last week about the fence problem, and he deferred his comments to recommendations from Senate Sergeant at Arms Karen Gibson (D-NY). She explained, “We need to protect the Capitol, but it shouldn’t be an armed camp, plain and simple.”

Who has the final say on the remaining fencing? Ultimately, it is the three members of the Capitol Police Board.  This board is not fully trusted due to the breakdowns in communication on January 6. The board was definitely slow in its response to the crisis at hand. 

Before any committees make plans concerning the fence and before the Capitol security officials make any plans, senators are saying that for sure they do not really want a long-term barrier.

Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) says, “It’s time to wean ourselves from that fence. It’s a very uncomfortable situation to have a United States Capitol, in the freest country in the world, that is protected from the people who own it.


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