Rep. Robert Brady is trying to put new Members and their spouses at ease by introducing legislation that would make it a federal crime to use imagery or language intended to threaten or incite violence against a Member of Congress or federal official.
“The spouses are in an uproar,” the Pennsylvania Democrat told CNN on Sunday. “They are panicking.”
He said he plans to introduce the legislation on the first day the House reconvenes. It would expand protections now afforded to the president to other civil servants.
The announcement came one day after a gunman opened fire at a constituent event hosted by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) in Tucson. Six people were killed, and the Congresswoman was critically wounded. Thirteen other people were also injured.
Authorities say Giffords was the target of the attack.
Brady specifically criticized former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s online “hit list” of Members whom the Republican wanted defeated in 2010. Giffords was on that list, which used crosshairs on a map to identify districts to target during the midterm elections.
Members “are as out there as much as anybody else, and we are trying to criminalize behavior that puts bull’s-eyes over Members of Congress and their districts,” Brady said. “We’re going to make that a federal crime.
“All we’re doing is trying to protect ourselves and protect our staff members,” he continued. “I’m not going to hide or not go to my events or public events just because of this incident.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.