With the nation on a high terror alert three days before the July 4 holiday weekend, security is being tightened just about everywhere — including at the two symbolic buildings at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
On Wednesday, workers were installing nasty-looking extra rows of sharp metal spikes atop the fence at the White House, where the Secret Service has had a problem in recent months with jumpers.
Down the street a few blocks, Capitol Hill officials have tightened security for this weekend's celebration on the National Mall by restricting staff access to the Lower West Terrace — a change from previous years.
Previously, staff and guests, along with members of Congress, had access to the Upper West Terrace during the concerts, and staff could often bring coolers and beverages into the Capitol for the festivities.
U.S. Capitol Police announced the clampdown earlier this year in a letter , citing the difficulty of enforcing security protocols.
House and Senate leaders accepted the new rules, but some lawmakers have groused that the security around the Capitol is overkill.
“This building belongs to the people, not to the Capitol Police, and they ought to accommodate the people who own this building, the American people, so they can come and visit their Capitol,” Rep. Sam Farr of California told CQ Roll Call in March .
“This idea that we’re going to just curtail everything that’s enjoyable — sledding on slopes when it snows, celebration of Fourth of July — is just contrary to the purpose for which this building is here.”
Beginning Thursday, streets surrounding the Capitol's West Front will be closed until Sunday. Closures include First Street between Independence Avenue Southwest and Constitution Avenue Northwest; Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest between First Street Northwest and Third Street Northwest; and Maryland Avenue between First Street Southwest and Third Street Southwest.
The concert, which will celebrate its 35th anniversary, includes an array of performers such as Barry Manilow, Alabama, KC and the Sunshine Band, Hunter Hayes, the National Symphony Orchestra and military bands.
Hannah Hess contributed to this report.
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