Outer fence surrounding Capitol complex to be removed this weekend

Inner layer of security fencing around Capitol Square area will remain for time being

Razor wire-topped riot fencing and vehicle barricades block Constitution Avenue by the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Razor wire-topped riot fencing and vehicle barricades block Constitution Avenue by the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Posted March 19, 2021 at 7:27pm

The outer fence surrounding the Capitol complex will be removed this weekend, according to acting House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett, a continued de-escalation of the security perimeter since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

In an email to members and staff, Blodgett said that by Monday, Independence and Constitution avenues will be open for traffic. The inner layer of fencing will remain around the Capitol Square area while the Architect of the Capitol makes security repairs to the Capitol.

Blodgett said the Capitol Police have informed him that “there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing.” The department and the AOC began scaling back the fencing earlier this week. Thus far, the razor wire has been removed from both outer and inner fences, and the latter was moved closer to the Capitol. In his email, Blodgett outlined access to the streets around the complex, the garages and the office buildings.

Source: Office of the Sergeant at Arms
Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call
Source: Office of the Sergeant at Arms
Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call
Source: Office of the Sergeant at Arms
Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call

Work on erecting the imposing hard perimeter of fencing began the day after pro-Trump insurrectionists breached the Capitol on Jan. 6. Another consequence of the attack was the authorization of thousands of National Guard troops to support the security mission in Washington. The National Guard is drawing down troops from around 5,000 to 2,280, which is the number currently authorized through May 23.

Blodgett said the National Guard “will continue to maintain a presence to support our increased security posture although their presence has been modified to support a reduced perimeter.” He also said that the Capitol Police will “continue to monitor the threat posture, [and] should a change occur, plans will be reevaluated.”

Members of Congress have been clamoring for the fence to come down for some time.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and 41 House Republicans introduced a bill Friday that would wind down the National Guard presence and open up the campus to constituents.

In a statement, McCarthy said it was “unfair” to the National Guard troops and taxpayers “to continue to keep them stationed here despite the lack of credible security threats.”

“It is also time to tear down the barricades around the Capitol complex. We must take down the fencing, commence public tours, and restore normalcy,” the California Republican said.

Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.