Lawmakers Trying to Balance Open Capitol With Security Concerns

Lawmakers Trying to Balance Open Capitol With Security Concerns tim ryan speaks into mic onstage Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) speaks during the Democratic Presidential Committee (DNC) summer meeting on August 23, 2019 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Tuesday, 06 April 2021 08:07 AM

Congressional lawmakers are struggling to balance their desire to keep the Capitol grounds open while still maximizing security.

The Hill reported their efforts come in the wake of the most recent attack at the Capitol campus. Both Republicans and Democrats had expressed interest in taking down the fence around the Capitol since it was put up after the Jan. 6 protests.

But The Hill noted just a week had gone by after an outer fence was removed when a man slammed his car into a barricade and killed a Capitol Police officer.

"Well, I think we’ve got to start moving in the direction of taking the (other) fencing down," Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Capitol Police budget, said during an interview on CNN’s "New Day" on Monday. "But I also think that until we have a real game plan in place — the manpower in place, the National Guard in place, these kinds of things — then we've got to be very careful in taking it down.

"Now, does the fence stop a complete riot? We’re not sure. The security experts tell us that might not even be the case. But I think there is some value to it…"

The driver who struck and killed a Capitol Police officer Friday was suffering from depression and mental illness, perhaps from brain injuries related to football, his family members claimed.

The family of Noah Green, 25, issued a statement claiming he was "not a terrorist by any means," and suffered from "depression and potential mental illness," which might have been related to repeated brain injuries from playing football

Capitol Police officer William Evans died and another officer was hospitalized after Green ran his car through a barricade and attacked them with a knife.

Some lawmakers remain convinced the Capitol fence should be removed as soon as possible, the Hill said.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the top Republican on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said it is important for officials to look at how to make the Capitol "as secure as it needs to be while making it as free as we can possibly make it. It’s an important element of who we are. It’s an important symbol of who we are. And we need to keep that in mind with every decision we make.

"I think it would be a mistake for fencing to be a permanent part of the Capitol. The message we send is the wrong message. Frankly, we're probably preparing for the wrong thing. The idea that what happens next at the Capitol will be what happened last is almost certain not to be the case."

Blunt made his comments on Sunday during an interview on ABC’s "This Week."