House Democrats imposed a new rule Tuesday requiring all lawmakers to have to go through a metal detector to reach the chamber floor — and it immediately sparked a standoff with a freshman Republican who says she carries her own firearm with her.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, Colorado Republican, didn’t want to turn over her handbag to be searched.
She was blocked from entering the House to vote during a debate on whether to try to oust President Trump.
A CNN reporter who observed the standoff said it went on for about 10 minutes, and she was finally allowed on the floor. He said it wasn’t clear whether the bag was searched.
The new metal detector rule was imposed unilaterally by Democrats in the wake of last week’s assault on Congress by pro-Trump rioters.
Democrats also were pushing to impose a mandatory fine on lawmakers who didn’t wear masks on the floor.
Three Democrats announced this week they tested positive for COVID-19 after being stuck in a lockdown during last week’s assault alongside GOP lawmakers who refused to don masks.
The twin issues come as passions are already running high over Mr. Trump and Democrats’ impeachment plans.
Ms. Boebert and other Republicans who regularly carry firearms pointed out that they felt safer during last week’s assault because of their weapons.
But a number of Democratic lawmakers have said they’ve become wary of security after last week’s attack.
Previously, members of the public had to go through metal detectors to enter the Capitol and again before entering the viewing galleries for the House.
But lawmakers were exempt.
Press and staff had to go through metal detectors to enter the building, but not to go into the press gallery.
Those groups will now have to go through detectors a second time as well.
The move to set up detectors angered other Republicans beyond Ms. Boebert.
“This is crap, right here,” said Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona Republican, as he encountered the detectors Tuesday. “This is the stupidest thing. I have no weapons.”
Rep. Steve Womack, Arkansas Republican, said the detectors will create problems as members try to reach the floor to vote.
“Don’t touch me,” he told the officers.
Rep. Rodney Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, which is supposed to oversee Capitol Hill operations, called the metal detectors a mistake, and said the officers have better things to do right now.
“The threat is outside, not inside,” he said. “Every resource used inside is one that can’t be used outside.”