In order to respond to ongoing attacks, the Capitol Police, Washington Mayor and lawmakers are weighing options for permanent fencing around Congress and bigger powers.
On Thursday, the acting head of the Capitol Police called for “vast improvements” to security on the grounds of the Capitol, including permanent fencing and “the availability of ready, backup forces,” sparking a debate on how far to go to harden the iconic place against continuing attacks.
Soon after the declaration by the acting president, Yogananda D. Pittman, Washington Mayor Muriel E. Bowser issued a declaration opposing permanent fencing and expanding dependence on a military presence following the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.
In the past, politicians usually opposed turning the Capitol into a highly guarded fortress, preferring it to stay as accessible to the public as possible. On Jan. 6, the House and the Senate and other federal departments moved to perform their own reviews of the safety lapses and are likely to provide additional recommendations.
But Chief Pittman and Ms. Bowser’s contrasting visions demonstrated the difficulty between keeping the Capitol as secure as possible and continuing to provide access to a towering icon of democracy.
Their clash took place on a day when two new arrests across the Capitol grounds were announced by the Capitol Police, one of a man suspected to have attempted to circumvent a security checkpoint and another of an armed man with ammunition.
On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security also cautioned that the United States was facing an increasing danger from “violent domestic extremists” who may have been emboldened by the attack of Jan. 6.