House Member Home Security May Cost $6 Million for First 2 Years ( Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
By Eric Mack | Sunday, 31 July 2022 12:04 PM EDT
Just years after calls to "defund the police" led to riots and violence across America during the Trump administration, with Democrats largely supporting the protests and calling them peaceful, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's Sergeant at Arms is now going to be funding private home security upgrade installations for members up to $10,000.
If every House member took full advantage of the benefits reported, it would cost $5,984,000 over the next two years alone, Newsmax has calculated.
"The Sergeant at Arms (SAA) will assume the cost of and oversee certain future residential security upgrades, maintenance, and monthly monitoring fees," SAA William Walker, appointed by Pelosi, announced this past week, according to myriad reports. "This program will strengthen the security of members of the House of Representatives and their families."
The move comes just weeks after a Seattle man, 48, was arrested for allegedly threatening to kill Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., outside her home.
Seattle was one of the hotbeds of the "defund the police" riots during the summer of 2020 in response to George Floyd's death under the knee of a cop that was ultimately found guilty of murder.
Jayapal had spoken out then about the need to be "diverting money away from police departments" to other "public programs."
"Where do we want to invest our money? Given the desperation of people right now, the number of people who are homeless, the number of people who don't have any safety net at all, I think it is very important to look at this in that context," Jayapal reportedly said then. "It is completely reasonable for us to shift significant resources from law enforcement and investing in people."
While Jayapal's office said the member did not support "defunding the police," it did say then that "defunding the police and shifting some resources to things we need to be investing in are two very different things."
That spending will now include up to $10,000 installation costs for security at the private homes of House members and an additional fixed-rate monthly monitoring and maintenance fees up to $150 a month, according to The Hill.
Private home security for House members will be costly for the House SAA.
There are 435 voting House members, while five delegates and one resident, so the House SAA has vowed to pay up to $4.4 million for installation. The monthly monitoring and maintenance would cost up to $66,000 per month and up to $792,000 per year for the 440 members.
House members are elected every two years if they serve one full term, so each member's home security cost could total $13,600 for the two years. If every House member took full advantage of the House SAA benefit for home security it would cost $5,984,000 over the next two years alone.
There has been reports of increased violence against those in public service, including Supreme Court justices, House members, and midterm candidates.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., was attacked earlier this month at a campaign speech in Fairport, N.Y., by a man holding a sharp object with the alleged intention of stabbing him. Also, a man was arrested outside of the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's home, allegedly seeking to assassinate him before the overruling of Roe v. Wade would be delivered in late June.
Polls are showing a growing segment of Americans saying political violence is at least somewhat justified, with 20% of American adults saying that to a University of California-Davis poll, The Guardian reported.
"I think of it as pretty low numbers of people who actually approve of violence at all," Johns Hopkins University professor Lilliana Mason told The Guardian. "The problem is that, if you go from 7% to 20%, that means that there are certain social spaces where the norms around anti-violence are eroding.
"For Americans in general, I think it's sort of empowering to know that every single one of us has the potential to reduce violence by simply rejecting it," she added. "We can all do that. All the 80% of us who don’t think violence is acceptable have a real voice, and it's important to use it."
U.S. Capitol Police reported 9,625 threats against members of Congress. That is more than double the total of 3,939 in 2017.
"There is simply no place for political violence in a healthy democracy," Protect Democracy's Jennifer Dresden told The Guardian. "The increase in threats and harassment being leveled at people across our government is deeply concerning.
"To be clear, we're not yet at a point where political violence has fundamentally undermined our democracy. But when violence is connected to other authoritarian tactics, like disinformation and efforts to corrupt elections, that sets a dangerous path for our democracy that we cannot ignore."