House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has blasted the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to notify U.S. Capitol Police of a planned Army parachutists demonstration over Nationals Park baseball stadium that led to an evacuation of the Capitol complex Wednesday.
The California Democrat said Wednesday in a statement the “apparent negligence” was especially injurious for “Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace” on Jan. 6, 2021.
“The Federal Aviation Administration‘s apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Congress looks forward to reviewing the results of a thorough after-action review that determines what precisely went wrong today and who at the Federal Aviation Administration will be held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake.”
The FAA said it “takes its role in protecting the national airspace seriously” and would conduct a “thorough and expeditious review of the events.”
“We know our actions affect others, especially in our nation’s capital region, and we must communicate early and often with our law enforcement partners,” a spokesperson for the FAA said in a statement.
Capitol Police issued an alert shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday saying they were “tracking an aircraft that poses a possible threat.”
The warning led to a full-scale evacuation of the Capitol and its Visitor Center, House and Senate office buildings and the Library of Congress.
Capitol Police issued an all-clear after the aircraft was identified as a plane carrying the Golden Knight Army Parachute Team that was scheduled to jump for Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park, home of the MLB’s Washington Nationals.
“The Capitol was evacuated out of an abundance of caution this evening,” the police said in a statement posted on Twitter more than 30 minutes after the evacuation order was issued. “There is no threat at the Capitol. More details to come.”
Mrs. Pelosi praised the Capitol Police for “vigilantly monitoring” for the “potential aircraft threat” and “ensuring the safety of all who work the hallowed halls.”
“Today, and every day, our Congressional community is extraordinarily grateful for the heroism of our United States Capitol Police officers,” she said.
• Dave Boyer contributed to this story.