Security Concerns Raised as US Lawmakers Split Over Senate Sitting on Anniversary of Capitol Riot
As the Democrats on 14 December unveiled the chamber’s calendar for 2022, it was revealed that senators are scheduled to return for work beginning on 3 January and remain through the 6 January anniversary of last year's US Capitol riots.The House is not scheduled to sit for the 2022 session until 10 January.
US lawmakers are divided on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to keep the Senate in session on the anniversary of the Capitol riot of 6 January 2020, while the House will be out. Some have argued that the move is too dangerous, while others have insisted it is the right call.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) raised concerns about security issues in connection with the event.
"I wish that before [Schumer] had done that he had talked to the staff around here. I wish he had talked to the police officers. I talk to the police officers a lot ... I don't think any of them are anxious to have to protect us, to be here on Jan. 6 when we don't need to be," she was cited by Politico as saying.
Earlier, concerns were voiced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
“If I were in charge of the Senate, I would not have us in session on Jan. 6 because you never know when someone may decide to mark the anniversary,” Collins was cited by HuffPost as saying. She added:
“I just think that day is too freighted with anxiety and anger and it would just be better if we did not have any sort of ‘anniversary’ of that day.”
© Shannon StapletonTear gas is released into a crowd of protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads "Come and Take It," during clashes with Capitol police
Tear gas is released into a crowd of protesters, with one wielding a Confederate battle flag that reads "Come and Take It," during clashes with Capitol police
© Shannon Stapleton
The Senate’s newly released calendar envisions the chamber being in session for 171 days in 2022, with senators scheduled to return to Washington during the first week of January, a week earlier than the House.
Senators return for work beginning the week of 3 January, while the House of Representatives is not scheduled to convene until 10 January.
Other senators saw no reason why the Senate shouldn’t be in session on 6 January, when Congress was convened in a joint session to certify Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election. At the time, while the rioters gained entry to the national legislature, they failed at their ultimate goal of overturning the results of the vote.
"We will have an appropriate way to have people that are here that day. I have confidence we recognise the sensitivity ... It's got to be dealt with in a way that is mindful of those emotions," Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) told Politico.
“We should be at work. I think there are security concerns all the time. And you know, we’re aware of them. But we got to do to the people’s work,” Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) was cited by HuffPost as saying.
“I don’t think there’s anything unique about this Jan. 6 that would make it any more dangerous than any other day,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) added.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a "Dear Colleague" letter to the Democratic caucus earlier that Congress would seek to mark the events of that day with a "full program of events." The livestreamed proceedings would ostensibly include discussions with historians about "the narrative of that day."
Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.), who was one of the lawmakers inside the Capitol during the time of last year’s riots, was cited as wishing the House were in session that day.
“I think it’s a bad message not to be here,” she said according to HuffPost.
“Some of us are talking about being together. … We don’t know yet what we’re going to do, but I’m not happy that I’m not going to be here. I feel like we should be there. I feel like the message is that somehow we’ve been scared away on Jan. 6, and I don’t think that’s really the case.”
Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on 14 December that the White House intended to commemorate the anniversary of the attack.
"January 6 was one of the darkest days in our democracy... It was a day when our nation's capital was under attack and I think there's no question you'll see us commemorate that day," said Psaki.
On 6 January 2021, thousands of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building, briefly interrupting a joint sitting of Congress, assembled to certify Biden's win in the November election. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died as a result.
The events were preceded by a Trump rally, which attracted a huge turnout. The Democrats have insisted that Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud incited the so-called insurrection.
© AP Photo / Jose Luis MaganaIn this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. U.S.
In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. U.S.
© AP Photo / Jose Luis Magana
The former president, who has repeatedly claimed the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from him, and suggested voting machines were manipulated to affect the results, was accused of “inciting” the violence.
Trump, who vehemently rejected the accusations, was later impeached by the US House of Representatives on charges of incitement to insurrection, but was subsequently acquitted by the US Senate.
The partisan Democratic-led House select committee investigating the January 6 riot at the US Capitol was established on 30 June. It has been gathering information on the planning process behind the events on that day, subpoenaing dozens of phone records from people connected to the “Stop the Steal” rally that immediately preceded the riot.
Dozens of Trump affiliates and former staffers have also been subpoenaed for their testimony, with many refusing to cooperate and subsequently held in contempt of Congress, including former chief adviser to Trump, Steve Bannon, and his former chief of staff, Mark Meadows.
7 December 2021, 19:31 GMT
On Thursday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to block a demand for White House records from the House select committee, after two weeks earlier two lower courts rejected the argument that they were protected by executive privilege.
As for the anniversary of the 6 January events, ex-President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he would be hosting a news conference at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on the day.
"Why isn't the Unselect Committee of highly partisan political hacks investigating the CAUSE of the January 6th protest, which was the rigged Presidential Election of 2020?" Trump wrote in a statement.
The ex-POTUS accused the committee of seeking to "stay as far away from" claims of a rigged 2020 presidential election.
"I will be having a news conference on January 6th at Mar-a-Lago to discuss all of these points, and more… Until then, remember, the insurrection took place on November 3rd, it was the completely unarmed protest of the rigged election that took place on January 6th," said Trump.