After the Capitol was attacked by thousands of pro-Trump rioters last month, additional security measures were put in place to keep members of Congress safe. Notably, metal detectors were placed at the entrances to the building. It seems like an easy ask to get elected representatives to do what most Americans do routinely, yet far-right Republicans pitched a fit—presumably something about a breach of their personal liberty. The extremist, anti-everything wing of the GOP that is at the center of this self-involved showdown is comprised of exactly who you’d expect: Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, who refused to hand over her bag when it set of the metal detector, and other Republican members, like Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Texas’ Louie Gohmert, among others, who have chosen to just slip right around them. “This is bullshit,” Republican Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois told the officers, outraged, when stopped at the door.
Because Republican lawmakers pretty much refused to abide by the new safety measure—imagine doing that at an airport—the House voted to institute punishments for noncompliance, in the form of an escalating series of fines starting with $5,000 for the first offense and $10,000 for each offense thereafter. The vote passed the House 216 to 210, a narrow, largely partisan tally that saw every Republican present vote against the measure.
Members of Congress are well-paid at $174,000 a year, but they are not professional athletes—many of them share accommodation in Washington to cut down on costs—so ten grand is not chump change. And the new rules come with teeth: The measure directs the House sergeant-at-arms to issue the fines for noncompliance and if members fail to pay after 90 days the amount will be automatically docked from their paycheck. Now do masks.
Just to recap here: The party most ideologically aligned with the thousands of people that staged a violent attack on the Capitol just weeks ago, largely targeting members of the other party, will not personally submit to increased security measures designed to keep their colleagues safe. Quite a workplace culture America’s been cultivating there.