House boosts travel security measures for lawmakers amid heightened threats

The Acting House Sergeant at Arms has created an online portal for members to share their travel plans to assure local law enforcement agencies are aware of their movements, according to an email obtained by CBS News that was sent to members of Congress and their staff Thursday evening. The Sergeant at Arms will work with U.S. Capitol Police to communicate with local agencies, although the email also encourages members “to establish relationships and coordinate with their local airport police and TSA officials.” 

U.S. Capitol Police will also provide extra security at D.C.-area airports and train stations on days with increased lawmaker travel. “USCP will not be available for personal escorts. However, they will be in place to monitor as Members move throughout the airport,” the email reads. 

The guidance is part of a broader security memo for lawmakers and their staff from Acting Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett, who is responsible for the security of members and the House side of the U.S. Capitol complex. 

CBS News is not publishing the full memo because it contains specific information about internal Capitol security resources.

The memo comes amid a heightened threat environment on Capitol Hill and increased concerns among members for their safety in the aftermath of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. On Wednesday, 32 members wrote to House leadership asking for more flexibility so they can use their congressional allowances to augment their personal safety in their home districts by hiring local law enforcement or other security personnel.  

The Wednesday evening request pointed to existing guidance that says members may be reimbursed for the costs of security personnel at official events they are hosting, while they are performing official duties, or when they are outside their district offices during business hours. It did not specifically address whether members can be reimbursed for security needs outside of those specific circumstances but did provide resources for further information.  

Speaker Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Congress would likely need to authorize additional funding to increase security for lawmakers. She also met with retired Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, who she asked to lead a security review of the Capitol.  

The complex remains heavily fortified with extensive fencing surrounding it, and 5,000 National Guard troops are expected to remain in Washington to provide assistance through mid-March. Acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman said on Wednesday that the fencing should be made permanent, but that has already drawn backlash from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and some lawmakers.