The Senate minority and majority leader, who will soon swap positions, are in agreement on one thing: the need to act against the failure of security procedures Wednesday as a pro-Trump mob forced its way into the Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called for a congressional investigation of the “massive failure.”
“Yesterday represented a massive failure of institutions, protocols, and planning that are supposed to protect the first branch of our federal government,” he said in a statement. “A painstaking investigation and thorough review must now take place, and significant changes must follow. Initial bipartisan discussions have already begun among committees of oversight and Congressional Leadership.”
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And while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving will be resigning, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., vowed to fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger when Democrats take the majority later this month if he does not resign.
Schumer will lead the majority in 13 days.
“If Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Stenger hasn’t vacated the position by then, I will fire him as soon as Democrats have a majority in the Senate,” he told Politico.
McConnell has not publicly called for Stenger to resign and he laid “ultimate blame” on the “unhinged criminals” who forced their way into the Capitol.
“This fact does not and will not preclude our addressing the shocking failures in the Capitol’s security posture and protocols,” he said.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., echoed Schumer’s call for the sergeant-at-arms to resign, and he didn’t mince words for Capitol security.
“How could they fail so miserably?” Graham said. “We’re 20 years from 9/11. Yesterday they could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all. They could have destroyed the government.”
The rioters that breached the police lines and entered the Capitol should have been shot at, he said.
“It would have been so easy for a terrorist organization to infiltrate this movement,” Graham said. “Warning shots should have been fired. Lethal force should have been used once they penetrated the seat of government.”
Pelosi has also called for Steven Sund’s resignation as Capitol Police chief. She said she’s been unable to reach him, but a spokesperson for Sund told Politico he has no plans to step down.
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The sergeant-at-arms has more than 800 employees who run security for the Capitol, while Capitol Police have 2,300 employees and officers.
Sund has said more than 50 police officers of his force and Washington’s Metro police were injured, and some were hospitalized.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who oversees Capitol police funding in the House, praised rank-and-file officers for doing “everything they could,” but he said there would be firings among higher-ranking officials.
“For us not to have an expeditious plan – the breach happened at 1 hour and 15 minutes of the Capitol police being able to hold off the mob,” Ryan told reporters Thursday. “You can be assured that somebody’s going to be held responsible for this.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, who oversees Capitol Police funding in the Senate, questioned why it took hours for the National Guard to show up.
“Inside that building yesterday were the top three people in the line of succession to become president and it took nearly three hours for any Department of Defense response to arrive at the Capitol,” Murphy said. “Why are we spending $700 billion on the military every year if the military can’t effectively defend the United States Capitol from attack?”
After remaining largely on the sidelines, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy and acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller made the decision to deploy the D.C. National Guard to the Capitol, once rioters had already breached the building. Miller said he’d spoken with Vice President Pence and leaders in Congress about the situation in the Capitol.
The Biden Inauguration, less than two weeks away, looms large over in charge of crowd security. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., called for a quick review from Capitol Police to correct any mistakes before Jan. 20.
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“You want to take one more really hard look at what you thought your crowd security concerns might be for,” he said.