Taxpayers still left on the hook for Jan. 6: Congress to increase security due to continued threats

The government will cover up to $10,000 for lawmakers to spend on securing their personal residents

Published August 1, 2022 3:58PM (EDT)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez | Capitol Riot on January 6th, 2021 (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez | Capitol Riot on January 6th, 2021 (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Beginning on August 15th, the House sergeant-at-arms office will pay for lawmakers to strengthen security at their homes in response to increased safety threats. The measure comes in response to rising violence in the wake of the January 6th capital riot and the more recent January 6th hearings.

The government funding will cover up to $10,000 for lawmakers to spend on securing their personal residents. In addition to a $150 monthly maintenance fee, the equipment can include locks, cameras, video surveillance, or motion detectors, Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker explained.

The initiative comes directly following a recent incident in which Rep. Lee Zeldin, the New York Republican gubernatorial candidate, was attacked at a rally. The authorities have reported that a 43-year-old man jumped onto the stage with a pointed weapon yelling "You're done!"

The Zeldin incident follows a larger trend of increased safety threats to lawmakers.

Between the first year of former President Donald Trump's term and the first year of President Biden's term, threats against members of Congress have increased by 144%, according to a report by the U.S. Capitol Police. In the first three months of 2020 alone, Capitol Police opened over 1,800 cases into security threats against lawmakers. This rise in violence reached a peak on January 6th, 2021, when rioters stormed the Capitol building and assaulted Capitol Police.

A year after the attack, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manager testified before the Senate explaining how the threat of violence has only increased since January 6th and more security resources were necessary to protect lawmakers.

"The biggest challenge I think we have is keeping up with the number of threats," Manger said. "If they continue to go up the way they have, clearly we're going to need additional officers to assign to this responsibility."

Since then, a $1.9 billion emergency bill was passed to upgrade Capitol security. Additionally, Capitol Police announced plans to launch field offices in Florida and San Francisco to better monitor threats to lawmakers throughout the country.

Lawmakers, on both the left and right, have been beefing up their own security even before the federal security funding was passed.

A report by Mother Jones found that members of Congress were spending more on security than they ever had before. For example, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, spent more on security just in 2021 she had during her entire time on the 2020 campaign train. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-WY, went from spending almost no campaign funds on security to spending $58,000 in just the first three months of 2021.

The New York Times found that far-right Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, spent $183,000 on her personal security during the beginning of 2022, more than any other lawmaker running for office.

Now, in the wake of the ongoing January 6th hearings, the violent backlash to members of congress has been brutal.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Il, one of only two Republicans serving on the January 6th committee, has been very vocal about how the Trump mob has been treating him. Back in June, Kinzinger shared a letter sent to his wife which said that Kinzinger "will be executed" and their newborn would be "joining Adam in hell."

"The Darkness is spreading courtesy of cowardly leaders fearful of truth. Is [that] what you want @GOP?," Kinzinger wrote.

At the begging of the summer, Kinzinger published a video that went viral on twitter compiling calls his office had received threatening him, his family, and Rep. Cheney, the other Republican on the January 6th committee.

By Abigail Goldberg-Zelizer

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