For nearly three years, members of the public have been prohibited from freely visiting the United States Capitol. However, one top Republican says that’s about to change.
According to the Washington Examiner, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy announced this week that the Capitol will be reopened when Republicans take charge next month.
“The People’s House must once again be open”
The newspaper noted that McCarthy, who is widely considered the favorite to become House speaker, tweeted out a letter he wrote last month regarding public access.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) December 28, 2022
Addressed to such figures as United States Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger and Sergeant at Arms William J. Walker, the letter explained why Americans need to see their legislators in action.
“More than just a symbolic measure”
“It has been two years, seven months, and 29 days since the People’s House closed,” McCarthy pointed out. “That means for 973, the American People have been restricted from exercising their constitutional right to petition the first branch of government,” he noted.
“Nine hundred and seventy-three days without being able to freely visit their Member of Congress at the Capitol Complex,” McCarthy continued.
“Nine hundred and seventy-three days without being able to access the House gallery and watch their representatives vote on legislation in person,” the Republican lawmaker went on to stress.
“Beginning on January 3, 2023, the People’s House must once again be open to the American public,” he went on to declare.
“Reopening the House is more than just a symbolic measure — government of the people, by the people, and for the people requires interaction with the people,” he insisted, adding, “It is for this reason that we must welcome Americans from across this nation back to the Halls of Congress.”
Capitol Police chief predicted that Capitol will reopen in three months
The Examiner noted that McCarthy’s timetable is more aggressive than the one Chief Manger laid for lawmakers during a presentation last week.
Manger indicated that he expected the Capitol Complex could allow visitors to return in pre-pandemic numbers sometime over the next three months.
The official U.S. Capitol website explains that although general public access remains restricted, it is possible to visit some areas of the facility by booking a tour.
“Only visitors with tour reservations may enter the Capitol Visitor Center. Visit the Schedule a Tour page to select a day/time and check availability,” it reads.