McConnell, Other Lawmakers Balk at 'Ghastly' Capitol Security

'It reminds me of my last visit to Kabul,' Senate minority leader says of razor wire fencing
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 11, 2021 7:12 AM CST
McConnell on Capitol Security: Reminds Me of Kabul
In this image from video, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is seen at the US Capitol in Washington on Saturday.   (Senate Television via AP)

A 10-foot-tall fence with razor wire surrounds the US Capitol, while thousands of National Guard troops have been patrolling the area ever since Jan. 6, when supporters of former President Trump staged a deadly insurrection over his false claims of election fraud. For Mitch McConnell, some of these security measures are overkill. "Do we need some changes? We probably do," the Senate minority leader told reporters Wednesday, per Politico. But "it looks terrible to have the beacon of our democracy surrounded by razor wire." In fact, the sight of that fencing triggers a memory for him when he comes to work in the morning. "It reminds me of my last visit to Kabul," said McConnell, who said he's been told there are no serious threats right now against the facility, per Bloomberg. The upshot: "We've overdone it. I'm extremely uncomfortable with the fact that my constituents can't come to the Capitol."

In addition to the current measures in place, the Pentagon pushed through a Capitol Police request and greenlit an extension this week that will allow for more than 2,300 National Guard troops to stay in DC until May 23, reports CNN. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, who's been tasked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to lead a security review of the Capitol, recently suggested adding a retractable fence and more security cameras, among other protective measures. Meanwhile, two Senate committees are looking into what happened on Jan. 6 and may make their own recommendations. At any rate, McConnell isn't the only one perturbed by how things look on Capitol Hill. "What we have now is unacceptable to me," Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said Tuesday of the razor-topped fences, calling them "ghastly" and an "embarrassment," per Bloomberg. "If there is a better way to protect us, I want to see it." (Read more Mitch McConnell stories.)

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