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Some Texas Republicans criticize new rule requiring lawmakers to pass through metal detectors to enter U.S. House

The policy was enacted after the deadly riot last week at the Capitol.

WASHINGTON — Multiple Texas Republicans in Congress are expressing outrage over a new House rule — enacted in the wake of last week’s deadly attack on the Capitol — that requires lawmakers to go through metal detectors before entering the chamber.

“This is a performative and useless move by Dem Leadership,” Rep. Randy Weber, R-Friendswood, wrote on Twitter, accusing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, of “putting politics and stunts above the safety our members.”

Members previously weren’t required to clear such security.

Democratic House leaders decided to require the screening after some Republicans in the wake of the insurrection apparently inquired about carrying firearms on the House floor, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, told Fox News’ Chad Pergram.

House rules have long prohibited members from carrying in the chamber.

“House Republicans refusing to walk through a metal detector are unwilling to accept circumstances to which they daily subject many teachers & students by blocking meaningful gun safety reforms,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, wrote on Twitter.

The rules at the U.S. Capitol are far different from those at the Texas Capitol.

In Austin, lawmakers are allowed to carry their guns in their respective chambers, and some are known to do so. All people with a license to carry, including visitors, are also allowed to skip the metal detectors at the state Capitol’s entrances.

In Washington, some Republicans from Texas and beyond, furious over the metal detectors being installed with little notice, flouted the new requirement and bypassed the lines that formed in front of the magnetometers, according to reporters’ accounts on Tuesday evening.

“You can’t stop me — I’m on my way to a vote,” Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, said on his way in, according to HuffPost’s Matt Fuller.

Gohmert, often a lightning rod for controversy at the Capitol, later told The Daily Caller, a conservative news site, that he considered the new policy to be “harassment.” He said lawmakers “need protection from the speaker, not each other.”

Austin Rep. Chip Roy, another Republican, vowed to not comply, telling Fox News that the “metal detector policy for the House floor is unnecessary, unconstitutional and endangers members.”

Rep. Van Taylor, a Plano Republican and former state lawmaker, was described Tuesday evening by Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., as “refusing to pass through a metal detector and arguing with U.S. Capitol Police officers about it.”

Taylor spokeswoman Anna McCormack, when asked for comment, said the congressman “has the utmost respect and gratitude for Capitol Police and all law enforcement officers.”

“While policy changes implemented without explanation and little notice certainly caused confusion for many members trying to vote last night, Congressman Taylor was simply trying to figure out the Speaker’s new orders,” she said.

Lulu Seikaly, the Democratic congressional candidate who lost to Taylor in November, took to Twitter to criticize her political rival, expressing hope that people in the district see “how our representative is acting.” She added: “What an embarrassment.”

Some other Democrats joined in a broader critique, with Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, recalling that when he attended Hillcrest High School in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he “had to walk through a metal detector” every morning.

“Any members of Congress who can’t comply with this simple safety measure should at least have the decency to not yell at police who saved all of our lives last week and who haven’t had a day off since,” he wrote on Twitter.

But not all Democrats were thrilled about the new metal detector policy, in part because of the resulting lines to get into the chamber.

“I’m more likely to die of COVID because I got it from a colleague than I am to die because a colleague shoots me,” Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, told CNN’s Manu Raju.

Tom Benning. Tom covers the intersection of business and government in Washington. He came to D.C. in 2016 from The News' Austin bureau. He has also previously worked in Dallas, covering everything from City Hall to transportation to former President George W. Bush. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina.

tbenning@dallasnews.com @tombenning
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