Chair DeLauro Statement at the U.S. Capitol Police and House Sergeant at Arms, Security Failures on January 6 Hearing

2021-02-25 14:02

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee on Legislative Branch hearing on U.S. Capitol Police and House Sergeant at Arms, Security Failures on January 6.

Thank you, Chairman Ryan and Ranking Member Herrera- Beutler. I am grateful to join you as we dig deeper into the security failures that occurred on January 6.

On that day, our nation held its collective breath, watching in disbelief as violent insurrectionists rioted in our capital. We listened in horror as insurrectionists were spurred on. As the mob stormed the Capitol Building, aiming to disrupt Congress. And yes, they came for the Congress, members of the United States Capitol Police (USCP) and House Sergeant at Arms (SAA) valiantly leapt into the fray. But they were overwhelmed. 

These courageous women and men risked their lives to defend our democracy. It is testament to their bravery and dedication that no Members or staff were physically harmed. It breaks all of our hearts that so many Capitol Police officers were injured in the attack, many quite severely. We pray for the officers and their families as they have dealt with the unfolding tragedy of that day, especially the family of Officer Brian Sicknick. And our hearts are heavy for the loss of Capitol Police Officer Howard Leibengood, who died by suicide in January.

As we honor these sacrifices, we must take a hard look at just what exactly happened on that dark day and what we need to do to ensure such an alarming breach, such an alarming failure, in our Capitol’s security never happens again.  The attack exposed weaknesses in our Capitol security systems that are far greater than any of us would have ever anticipated. And it has made it abundantly clear that the Capitol Police and the Sergeant at Arms require major institutional and cultural reforms. What went wrong on January 6?

As the Committee that funds the security of the Capitol, today we hope we can gain a better understanding of the problems that the Capitol Police and the Sergeant at Arms must address and what resources they need to reform themselves and keep Members, Congressional staff and  employees, and their own officers safe. What are the solutions? What should the role of the Capitol Police board be?

I say a thank you to our witnesses for joining us today. Acting Chief of Police Yogananda Pittman briefed Members of the Appropriations Committee last month, and I hope that we can continue to drill down on the issues that we discussed then. And Acting House Sergeant at Arms Tim Blodgett brings an important perspective from his office.

On January 6, 2021, our nation gazed into the abyss. Our democracy is fragile, but the security of our seat of government should never be. That is why it is so immensely important that we have an open and honest discussion to ensure the events like those that took place on January 6 can never happen again.

117th Congress