Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill to protect its Capitol Building in consequence of the Capitol riot on Certification Day last January 6th. That is when President Trump stirred up thousands of his supporters to attack the Capitol because he lost the election. The U.S. escaped what could have been a far more devastating destruction, since not one of those 535 members of Congress who were meeting to affirm the election results was killed or injured. Nevertheless, five people died from the riot, one being a Capitol Police officer. And about 140 such officers were injured. It was the worst attack on U.S. democracy in two centuries.
The vote was 213 to 212 for passing the bill. Not a single Republican Representative voted for it. And a few left-wing, progressive Democrat lawmakers opposed it as well. They alleged that the Capitol Police themselves, being mostly white, were partly at fault for the insurrection.
The bill appropriates $1.9 billion to protect both the Capitol, members of Congress, and improve Capitol Police equipment. The National Guard would be reimbursed with $520 million. And $40 million of it would go to prosecuting rioters who have been arrested for storming the Capitol. Right now, a fence with barbed wire surrounds the Capitol, which was installed after the insurrection. But the bill proposes $250 million to strengthen the Capitol perimeter further with “retractable fencing.” That sounds like something less than permanent.
But this bill now proceeds to the Senate, where it is pretty much dead on arrival. That’s because Republican members of Congress are trying to white-wash the Capitol riot by expunging it from history due to the lies that start at the top of the Party, that is, with former President Donald Trump. It says he never caused the riot with his 80-minute speech that day which preceded the riot, which most Americans consider having been quite incendiary. Trump may face a court about this matter sometime in the future.
Two days ago, on Wednesday, the House passed another bill which proposes that a commission be established–something like the 9/11 commission–to investigate the Capitol riot. This bill passed more easily, 252 to 175. Yet the two most powerful Republican members of Congress–Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy–are opposed to the plan. The main reason this bill likely will not pass in the Senate is that the Senate is evenly divided, with 50 Republican senators and 50 Democrat senators. And the bill needs sixty favorable votes to pass. Republican senators are sticking together to defeat this bill as well. They are doing this to try to ignore what caused the riot. Some, such as Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, are saying it never happened even though there is so much video of the rioters storming the Capitol inflicting violence on especially the police.
Regarding the bill for protecting the Capitol, legislators are generally opposed to limiting the peoples’ access to the Capitol. I think that is old-school and needs to change. The reason is that the U.S. is the most gun-happy, advanced nation on planet earth. With the total U.S. population being about 330 million, Americans own about one gun or rifle per person. That is way more than most other countries. And our gun laws have become more lax rather than being tightened. People can carry loaded guns in public, even showing them, in public places whereas they weren’t allowed to do that back in the day. And over the decades the U.S. has had an explosion, to use a pun, of mass killings by crazed individuals. It seems they now occur at least once per week in which someone goes to a school, business, or other public building and starts shooting the place up, with a multiple number of people being killed. The U.S. therefore has a reputation around the world as a nation full of guns and gun-caused homicides.
That’s why I believe the U.S. is going to have to protect its lawmakers from all the gun-crazies out there more than it has in the past. And the nation needs to start with protecting its legislators on The Hill who make our laws. If not, who wants to be a member of Congress? That is, it will be more difficult to get good, qualified people as politicians.