Top Republicans are demanding the Capitol return to pre-pandemic operations, as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calls on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to open the premises to the public, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell criticizes the current level of security.
In a letter dated Wednesday, McCarthy (R-Calif.) argued that it was time for the Capitol to be open to the public, and to take down the fencing put up after the Jan. 6 siege, putting an end to proxy voting and permitting tours again.
“Nearly a year ago to the day, you made the decision to close the Capitol to visitors and begin implementing new protocols to govern access and movement of the members and staff of the Capitol complex,” McCarthy wrote.
“But since that time, we have learned more about the virus and have made monumental strides in our scientific and technological endeavors. Today, we have multiple vaccines with significant efficacy rates. COVID-19 cases and deaths are falling nationally. And experts predict a return to normalcy may be closer than we think,” he continued.
The top House Republican then asked Pelosi (D-Calif.) when she intended to put an end to the coronavirus protocols still in place, specifically referencing proxy voting, tours, the current fencing, as well as masking requirements.
He also asked whether the House would ease restrictions as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines permitting more relaxed practices, as well as if she planned to consider what the Senate was doing.
“Simply put: it’s time that we return to regular order. House Republicans are eager for the chance to reopen the People’s House, restore America’s voice in Congress, and work day in and day out to address the many concerns our constituents face.”
A Pelosi spokesman could not immediately be reached by The Post for comment on the letter.
The letter was sent on the same day that McConnell (R-Ky.) criticized the current level of security on the complex, remarking that it reminded him of the war zone in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Speaking to reporters during a Wednesday afternoon press briefing, the top Senate Republican argued that, “I think we’ve overdone it” two months after the riot.
“I just checked earlier this morning. There are no serious threats against the Capitol. I think we’re way overreacting to the current need,” he continued. “I’m extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can’t come to the Capitol.”
“With all this razor wire around the complex, it reminds me of my last visit to Kabul. This is the capital of the United States of America. Do we need some changes? We probably do. But I think we are continuing to overreact based on current threat levels, to what is needed here at the Capitol. It looks terrible to have the beacon of our democracy surrounded by razor wire and National Guard troops.”