Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday downplayed a threat to the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, calling it ‘silliness’ and said the House didn’t cancel votes because of possible violence.
Pelosi said the votes were cancelled because Republicans were holding their annual issues conference – a time when the GOP gathers to talk about their agenda for the new Congress. Democrats held a similar conference virtually earlier in the week.
‘I don’t think anybody should take any encouragement that because some troublemakers might show up that we changed our whole schedule. No we just moved it a few hours and largely to accommodate the Republicans going to their own session,’ the speaker said at her weekly press conference.
Thursday is predicted by followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory to be the day that Donald Trump will take power again, returning to D.C. to be inaugurated as president once more. March 4 as been branded by them as the ‘real Inauguration Day’ as it was the date formerly scheduled for the event until 1933.
U.S. Capitol Police revealed Wednesday it has received intelligence reports that indicated ‘a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group’ on the fourth. Security has been heightened around the Capitol out of caution.
Pelosi described the idea that Trump would be inauguration on March 4 as ‘silliness’ and said it ‘falls into the realm of let’s not waste our time on it.’
Speaker Nancy Pelosi downplayed a threat to the Capitol by Donald Trump supporters, calling it ‘silliness’
The Capitol is being guarded by almost 5,000 troops with DC on heightened alert
US Capitol police officers and US National Guard soldiers guard an entrance to the Capitol grounds
She emphasized security around the Capitol is in a much stronger position compared to January 6th, when thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, leaving five dead and a trail of destruction. Pelosi was rushed from the building by her security team as rioters broke in. She has described how her staff had to hide under a conference table behind a locked door while rioters tried to get inside the room.
Now anti-climbing fencing topped with razor wire surrounds the Capitol Hill complex. Lawmakers, staff and media must enter through check points manned by armed National Guard troops. Guardsmen also are inside the building, patrolling hallways and corridors.
Pelosi said the presence of the National Guard necessary to keep Congress safe while lawmakers do their job.
She noted with ‘the threat of all the president’s men out there, we have to we have to ensure with our security that we are safe enough to do our job.’
‘We’re way ahead of where we were last time because we have fences and we have National Guard and the rest. But nonetheless, we don’t want to have all of that. We want to have our capital be respected by everyone in our country,’ she added.
Pelosi held her press conference in the basement of the Capitol and will be in the building Thursday.
The Senate is in session on Thursday and gearing up for a marathon voting session on Thursday for President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill.
And Vice President Kamala Harris may need to be on hand to break any ties in the evenly-divided 50-50 chamber.
Senators may have a late night ahead of them as a series of amendments are expected to be offered to the legislation and it remains unclear when there will be a final vote on the thirteen figure package.
At some point on Thursday or Friday, the Senate will move into a vote-a-rama – a series of back-to-back votes on multiple amendments that can go late into the night to the next morning.
Depending on how long Republicans can stall and how many amendments are offered the legislation, a final vote on the COVID relief package may not come until the weekend.
National Guard soldiers patrol the grounds of the U.S. Capitol
Lawmakers, staff and media must go through checkpoints guarded by armed National Guard soldiers before they can get into the Capitol
The Capitol is more secure than it was on January 6th with anti-climbing fencing topped with razor wire surrounding the complex
US Capitol Police said they received intelligence reports on a possible threat for March 4 – the day QAnon supporters claim Donald Trump will be inaugurated president
The Senate’s Thursday session will take place under the heavy eye of security.
While U.S. Capitol Police did not name a specific group in its statement on Wednesday there is chatter the militia group the Three Percenters is involved – the group were among the rioters accused of breaching the Capitol on January 6 as part of a Make America Great Again mob.
‘We have obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4,’ USCP said in it statement, which came the same day that officials testified on Capitol Hill about security surrounding the complex.
‘We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,’ they noted.
‘Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously. Due to the sensitive nature of this information we cannot provide additional details at this time.’
No protest permits have been issued for Thursday, according to a D.C. Police Department spokesperson, but acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett sent a memo to lawmakers and staff asking them to ‘remain vigilant and to report suspicious activity’ headed into Thursday.
The Capitol is being guarded by almost 5,000 troops and U.S. Capitol Police requested 4,900 National Guard troops remain in the nation’s capital until at least March 12.
For some soldiers, this means it is almost two months since they were first drafted in to the city following the MAGA riot on January 6th.