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House lawmakers plead with leadership for security boost after Capitol riots

The lawmakers said they "face ongoing security threats from the same domestic terror groups that attacked the Capitol just in the last month."
Razor wire and fences still surround the United States
Barbed wire and fences surround the U.S. Capitol.Jeremy Hogan / LightRocket via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — As Capitol Hill grapples with the lingering trauma of the Jan. 6 riot, House lawmakers are worried about their daily safety both in Washington and back home in their districts.

“The horrific attack on the United States Capitol reminds us of the grim reality that Members of Congress are high profile public officials, and therefore, face ongoing security threats from the same domestic terror groups that attacked the Capitol just in the last month,” the lawmakers wrote in letter Thursday to House leadership obtained by NBC News.

The letter, sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and the heads of the House Administration committee, asks for increased designation of funds to this years’ Member Representational Allowance — a budget given to all members of Congress that is typically used to fund office operations — citing the increased threat level.

Thirty-one Democrats and one Republican signed the letter, which asks for authorization to use funds to hire local law enforcement in their districts, purchase security items for soft target locations and efforts to keep home addresses private.

Pelosi responded to the request later Thursday, saying, "I appreciate the letter but most of the items on their list have already been done."

Pelosi added that a commission is already reviewing security failures that occurred during the riot and looking into how members can be better protected. “I do think while it is appropriate for them to use their MRA for their security, they shouldn't have to because that money is there to meet the needs of their constituents,” she said.

Pelosi also warned that not only is there a threat outside the Capitol, but also internally from other lawmakers.

“We want to have a scientific approach to how we protect members. I do believe and I have said this all along that we will probably need a supplemental for more security for members when the enemy is within the House of Representatives, a threat that members are concerned about, in addition to what is happening outside,” she said. Asked what she meant by the “enemy within,” Pelosi said, “It means that we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress.”

The request comes as the Senate prepares for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. Security concerns are growing as Republicans appear to be shying away from conviction.

Forty-five Republicans on Tuesday voted on a measure declaring the trial unconstitutional, dampening Democrats' hopes of reaching a conviction, which would require 67 votes. Despite the odds, House staffers are pleading with senators to keep an open mind.

“As employees of the U.S. House of Representatives, we don’t have a vote on whether to convict Donald J. Trump for his role in inciting the violent attack at the Capitol, but our Senators do. And for our sake, and the sake of the country, we ask that they vote to convict the former president and bar him from ever holding office again,” the staffers wrote.

The letter is being circulated to Democrat and Republican offices, to be posted just before the trial begins the week of Feb. 8.