March 25, 2021

Senators Van Hollen, Blunt and Congresswoman Norton Introduce Legislation to Prohibit Permanent Fencing Around Capitol Complex

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, introduced the No Fencing at the United States Capitol Complex Act. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) previously introduced the legislation in the House. Their bipartisan, bicameral bill prohibits funding for permanent fencing around the U.S. Capitol complex.

“The Capitol is the citadel of our democracy, and we should not turn it into a fortress. We can secure Congress without walling it off from the American people. This legislation will prohibit permanent fencing around the Capitol complex. We didn’t build a fence after the British burned the Capitol in 1814, and we don’t need one now,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“The U.S. Capitol is the most iconic symbol of democracy in the world. How we respond to the January 6th attack will send a clear message to everyone watching,” said Blunt. “Over the past two months, we have come together in a bipartisan way to look at the security failures that occurred and determine what needs to be done to prevent a similar attack from happening again. There are clearly steps that need to be taken to strengthen security around the Capitol complex, but permanent fencing should not be a part of that response. The message that would send to the American people, and to the world, is that the character of our democracy is fragile enough to be permanently altered by that single event. I have said before and I will say again: we should not forget the January 6th attack because we cannot let it be repeated. But we also cannot let it change who we are as a nation; a nation that has always been defined by a government that is accessible and accountable to the people we serve. As we near the end of the pandemic, I look forward to being able to welcome Missourians back to the Capitol. I hope all of our colleagues will join us in making sure there is no fencing standing in the way.”

“Permanent fencing would send an un-American and unnecessary message to the nation and the world by transforming our democracy from one that is accessible and of the people to one that is exclusive and fearful of its own citizens,” Norton said. “Already, the distance between government and the people has grown. Trust in government is at historic lows. We should not entrench that distance further by placing intimidating barriers between ourselves as public servants and the people we serve, especially when such barriers are neither effective nor necessary.”

Van Hollen, Blunt, and Norton held a press conference on the legislation earlier today, video available HERE.

Text of the legislation is available HERE.