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House Republicans Allege Bias in Security Fines

A new lawsuit against the House sergeant at arms says Speaker Nancy Pelosi flouted the chamber's security screening procedures one day after a similar infraction by one of her Republican colleagues that ended in a fine.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Two Republican congressman brought a federal complaint Monday over security procedures to get onto the House floor that they say are selectively enforced against Republicans, causing them to miss votes. 

Representatives Andrew Clyde of Georgia and Louie Gohmert of Texas have both been fined $5,000 for skipping the magnetometer on their way onto the House Floor — but attest that security personnel let Democrats slide for the same behavior.  

"This fine has nothing to do with following the rules and everything to do with furthering the Democrats’ never ending scheme to demonize and punish their political opponents,” Gohmert said in a statement back in February after he was fined for stepping out to go to the bathroom and coming back in without reentering through the metal detector. 

Metal detectors were installed outside of the House floor on Jan. 12 in the wake of the deadly riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6. A month later, because members were skirting around the detectors, the House voted 216-200 to create a rule penalizing members for failing to comply with a security screening.

The $5,000 fine for the first offense and $10,000 fine for repeat offenses is taken out of the lawmaker’s salary, and cannot be paid for by campaign funds or the office budget. 

“You already have to go through metal detectors to get into the building,” Representative Jeff Duncan of South Carolina tweeted. “These are an extra set of detectors outside of the chamber just for Members to go through. They serve no purpose but to allow Pelosi to be petty.”

Members of both parties have expressed frustration with the long lines to get onto the House floor — but now, Republicans say that the rule is only enforced on them. 

The lawsuit, which was filed against the sergeant at arms, documents several instances in early February where Democratic members of the House violated the screening rule and were not fined: Speaker Nancy Pelosi walked past the magnetometers on Feb. 4 but security made no effort to restrain her — nor was she issued a citation, fined or referred to the House Ethics Committee, which is the House rule. 

This was a day after Clyde admittedly entered the House chamber without passing through the magnetometer. Clyde learned he would be fined for that infraction on Feb. 5. The same day, Republican Representatives Rodney Davis of Illinois, Barry Loudermilk of Georgia and Bryan Steil of Wisconsin wrote a letter to the sergeant at arms pointing out the unfair enforcement of the screening rule. All three are members of the House Committee on Administration. 

According to the lawsuit, Democratic Representatives Maxine Waters of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland and Nydia Velasquez of New York all set off the security alarm around the same time but were waived through by personnel and not fined. 

Clyde says he was fined an additional $10,000 for violating the screening rule a second time, having failed to stop after he set off the magnetometer alarm with his phone on his way to vote. 

In addition to Clyde and Gohmert, fines have been magnetometer fines have been levied against Republican Representatives Lloyd Smucker, Hal Rogers and Virginia Foxx, as well as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, a Democrat from South Carolina have also been slapped with fines.  

Clyburn and Rogers appealed their fines successfully. Clyde and Gohmert’s appeals of their fines were denied. Clyde is the only lawmaker to have received two fines.

“Speaker Pelosi has instituted an unconstitutional policy of enforcing the Screening Rule against only members of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives, and exempting members of the Democratic majority from its enforcement, resulting in only Republican members being fined and having their congressional salaries reduced, all for the purpose of creating a false narrative for the political benefit of the House Democratic majority,” the complaint states. 

Deputy Sergeant at Arms Tim Blodgett declined to comment, citing policy on pending litigation. 

Spokespeople for Pelosi, Waters, Raskin and Velasquez did not respond to requests for comment. 

Categories / Government, Politics

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