In the months since a violent riot in D.C., extensive fencing has been erected around the Capitol building complex.
Although the structure is set to be removed, Capitol Police issued a memo this week confirming that access to Capitol Hill will remain severely limited.
“Cramming all this stuff through”
The fencing has served as a menacing visual symbol of what some conservatives have referred to as “Fort Pelosi,” referencing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and her party’s call for continued police and military presence in the area.
Although the barrier was initially a response to perceived security threats, pressure has mounted in recent weeks for it to be removed.
U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) recently voiced his concerns, asserting: “No constituents can come and see us. No groups or organizations can come and see us. Nobody can sit in the gallery and watch us. They’re not having regular committee hearings. They’re cramming all this stuff through.”
Last week, officials announced that demolition of the fence would begin soon since there was no “known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing.”
Despite that update, Capitol Police warned congressional staffers this week that the building will remain closed to the public. Instead, staffers and visitors will be able to access the grounds through barricaded checkpoints with inner fencing set to remain even after the exterior barriers are taken down.
“People unconsciously assume”
Furthermore, National Guard troops stationed near Capitol Hill are expected to remain deployed until at least May.
The elevated security measures have been justified on the grounds that there could be residual threats of “domestic terror” following the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol building.
Nevertheless, the situation has led to bipartisan backlash and legislation in the Senate to pre-emptively ban any permanent fencing from going up around the complex.
Last week, the New York Post editorial board argued against the continued presence of troops in the nation’s capital.
“Bringing in the Guard in the immediate aftermath of Jan. 6 made some sense,” the editorial concluded. “But now the needless militarization simply feeds more fear — as people unconsciously assume it means there’s some real threat out there.”