Tear Down the Wall, Say Bipartisan Lawmakers of 'Troubling' U.S. Capitol Barriers

Congressional lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are finding a rare piece of bipartisan agreement: tearing down the "deeply troubling" fencing and "militarized" security surrounding the U.S. Capitol Building since the January 6 insurrection.

Several Republicans and Democrats in Washington D.C. are demanding the removal or replacement of "continued militarization" at the Capitol. GOP Senators James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Rob Portman of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida penned a letter to Homeland Security and U.S. Intelligence operations last week which blasted the wire fencing and National Security troops still guarding the area. Meanwhile, Democratic Illinois Senator Dick Durbin agreed, describing it as "unacceptable...just ghastly, it's an embarrassment."

On Friday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin rejected the request of bipartisan lawmakers who think the security still in place from the deadly Capitol attacks is "overreacting." Instead, Austin approved a Capitol Police request to extend the deployment of 2,300 Guard members for at least another two months.

Local D.C. residents have joined the growing calls to replace or remove the walls around the Capitol.

"All you have to do is to see the fencing around the Capitol to be shocked," remarked Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Washington D.C. Democrat, in an Friday interview with the Associated Press.

Today is such a beautiful, if cold, day in DC. Normally I might take nice run around the Capitol. Sadly, a giant fence has turned our beautiful Capitol grounds, used by many, into an impenetrable fortress. It is time for the walls to come down. pic.twitter.com/6FknJrqtIX

— Ryan A. Mace (@ryanamace) March 5, 2021

"There are no serious threats against the Capitol, think we're way overreacting to the current need," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at a Wednesday press conference, responding to questions about security precautions for the future. "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 Capitol of the United States of America."

Democratic and Republican lawmakers have both expressed a desire to keep some level of support around the Capitol. The GOP senators reiterated in their Wednesday letter that "the present security posture is not warranted at this time...our National Guard troops, who serve with great honor and distinction, are not law enforcement officers, and we will not abide the continued militarization of Capitol complex security."

But Capitol Police and security officials in Washington said security efforts should be increased—a move that should have occurred after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Capitol Police issued a report which seeks to establish a permanent "quick response force."

"The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th forever changed how we look at the 'People's House,'" acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said in written testimony before Congress last month. "The Capitol's security infrastructure must change."

Newsweek reached out to Capitol Police and McConnell's office for additional remarks Saturday morning.

us capitol security fence wall
Members of the National Guard continue to stand watch along the temporary security fence that surrounds the U.S. Capitol on February 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. The fence was erected around the Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress and their associated office buildings following the deadly January 6 insurrection, where thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in an attempt to halt certification of the 2020 presidential election results. CHIP SOMODEVILLA / Staff/Getty Images