Big changes are coming to operations at the U.S. Capitol Building Complex and in the House itself after Republicans take charge of the chamber in early January.
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said for one, the Capitol Building would become much more accessible than it has been under Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) tenure following the Jan. 6, 2021 riot.
Much of the Capitol Building, and in particular the House of Representatives, was largely inaccessible for much of the past two years, in part due to COVID-19 but also following the riot.
McCarthy plans to change that immediately, calling it “one of the first orders of business” on Twitter.
One of the first orders of business under your new House Republican majority → Fully re-open the U.S. Capitol to the public.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) November 21, 2022
“Members of the public may gain access to the galleries through normal procedures as well as obtain tickets from members, a measure that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suspended following the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021,” the Daily Caller reported.
He also said that every morning the chamber is in session, the House will begin with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, which is a change from Democratic leadership where those practices were intermittent, according to a Facebook post. “No exceptions,” McCarthy wrote.
CNN reported that McCarthy is also leaning towards getting rid of metal detectors Pelosi had installed outside House chamber doors, forcing all members to pass through them before entering. All members who refused to do so were fined beginning Jan. 12. The Senate does not have that requirement.
Pelosi put the measures in place after she incredulously claimed that “the enemy is within the House of Representatives,” a reference to several Republicans who support the Second Amendment and their opposition to the 2020 election results. She made the statement during a 2021 press conference, provoking outrage from Republicans.
McCarthy has said he doesn’t favor the metal detectors or the fines, which are $5,000 per offense and are taken directly from members’ pay.
“Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Andrew Clyde of Georgia have sued the House for their fines of $5,000 and $15,000, respectively, arguing that the measure violates the U.S. Constitution’s 27th Amendment, which prohibits “laws varying the compensation of Senators and Representatives” from taking effect until an election occurs,” the Daily Caller reported.
Also, Pelosi held herself out for exemptions; she was heavily criticized for failing to pass through a metal detector as entered and left the House chamber, the New York Post reported.
McCarthy has also said he plans to remove a number of Democrats from their current committee assignments, including Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota; Adam Schiff of California, and Eric Swalwell of California.
Under Pelosi’s rule, a couple of Republicans were stripped of their committee assignments, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia over prior social media posts. In addition, Pelosi refused to allow McCarthy’s hand-picked GOP lawmakers sit on the Jan. 6 Committee, allowing only two anti-Trump Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, to be seated.
Both of them are leaving Congress in January; Cheney was beaten in her primary and Kinzinger, facing certain defeat after the 2020 Census redistricting, chose to retire.