Democrats have fiercely opposed President Trump’s initiative to build a wall on the southern border to help enforce immigration laws, but at least one party member thinks a permanent fence around the U.S. Capitol building is a good idea.
A bill proposed by freshman Rep. Ritchie Torres, D-N.Y., directs the architect of the Capitol “to design & install an appropriate fence around the perimeter of the United States Capitol.”
The bill was introduced to the House on Jan. 15 and referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on the same day. However, the text of the legislation has not yet been submitted.
Torres, a former New York City Council member, said he intends to revive the Capitol Gateway Plan, a previously rejected security proposal to encircle the entire Capitol grounds with a permanent secure fence, the Jewish Insider reported.
Torres said he got the idea after the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol when he read a Jewish Insider interview with former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer, who spearheaded the Capitol Gateway Plan.
“I never thought, as a newly sworn in member, that I would live through a violent insurrection against the Capitol,” Torres told Jewish Insider. “Compared to the White House, which has long been heavily guarded and enclosed, the security of the Capitol has long been an afterthought for federal law enforcement. Congress is a co-equal branch of government. And we should strive to make the Capitol every bit as secure as the White House itself.”
“We have to ensure the Capitol is secure in a time of sedition,” he said.
Torres said that after Inauguration Day on Wednesday, “the crisis of violent white nationalism that Trump has unleashed” will remain a threat.
House Democrats regularly blocked funding for the border wall and dued the administration when Trump used a national emergency declaration to divert $3.6 billion in unspent military construction funding to the project.
Among the responses of Democrats to Trump’s border-wall initiative was a lawsuit filed by the House in April 2019 to block federal funds.
Democrats contended the president’s emergency declaration was invalid, insisting there was no crisis at the border. However, Border Patrol officials at the time said border crossings by families had dramatically surged in previous months, exceeding their capacity to hold illegal immigrants.
One week ago, President Trump visted Alamo, Texas, to celebrate the 450th mile of new wall construction. He announced another 300 miles of wall are under construction or pre-construction.
“We inherited a lawless border,” Trump said. “We fixed it and secured it.”
Her warned Joe Biden that if his policies “are reversed, it would trigger a wave of immigration.”
“To terminate these policies is to knowingly put this country in great danger,” the president said.
‘Romantic vision’ of ‘open campus’
The Jewish Insider reported no other Congress members have signed on to Torres’ expensive Capitol plan, but the lawmaker is “early in the lobbying process.”
“I imagine there are members of Congress who are wedded to the romantic vision of the Capitol as an open campus,” he said. “But that vision is no longer defensible in a world of violent white supremacy, at a time when there are known attempts by white supremacists to assassinate members of Congress.”
Gainer, the former Senate sergeant-at-arms, likes Torres’ plan, noting the congressman’s staff reached out to him.
“I was pleasantly surprised and thought ‘finally,'” Gainer said.
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