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Tipsheet

The Capitol Has Now Been Closed for Two Years

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The U.S. Capitol has been closed for two years, shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with Democrats in leadership also using last year's Capitol riot on January 6 as a further excuse for their wariness to open up the Capitol. 

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Writing for The Hill, Cristina Marcos highlighted an exchange between House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Scalise brought up resolutions offered by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Rep. Bryan Steil (R-WI) to reopen the Capitol. While Hoyer claimed that "I think all of us agree that the American public’s access to the Capitol ought to be as fulsome as possible," he went on to bring up January 6, as well as the RNC voting to censure Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Liz Cheney (R-WY) for voting for the January 6 select committee, which they sit on. 

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has addressed the criticisms and misinterpretations about such a move in a column from Townhall.

Kinzinger and Cheney were selected by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and no Republican members selected by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) appear on the select committee. McCarthy pulled all of his picks after Pelosi vetoed Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Jim Jordan (R-OH).

Hoyer then put Scalise on the spot to once more condemn the actions of January 6. As Marcos quoted the exchange:

“If we are telling people in this country that Jan. 6 was legitimate political discourse, we are going to have great concerns about opening up this Capitol for the safety of our members, for the safety of the public who wants to visit, and for the safety of our staff,” Hoyer said.

“I would ask my friend: Does he believe that Jan. 6 reflected legitimate political discourse?” he asked Scalise.

“I have been very clear from the very beginning, anyone who broke into this Capitol ought to be held accountable and is being held accountable,” Scalise said.

“More arrests have been made than probably all of the cities where people were burning down cities across America in the summer. That is something that ought to be addressed, and the Democratic Party doesn't want to talk about that. They just want to talk about Jan. 6,” Scalise charged.

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Not only did Scalise affirm that "anyone who broke into this Capitol ought to be held accountable," he also pointed to the violence and arrests from the looting in summer protests. "That is something that ought to be addressed, and the Democratic Party doesn't want to talk about that. They just want to talk about Jan. 6," he said. 

There are Democrats who want to open up the Capitol, and who don't seem to be buying leadership's excuses.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, who serves as a delegate for the District of Columbia, released a press release on Tuesday, "To Support D.C.’s Tourist Economy, Norton Calls for Capitol to Reopen to Visitors, Notes Success of Vaccines."

The short release read:

“It is time that the U.S. Capitol open once again to visitors,” Norton said. “The Capitol was closed because of the pandemic and because of security concerns stemming from the January 6th attack. Restrictions due to COVID-19 are disappearing in the District of Columbia and nationwide because vaccines work, and there is no reason to believe visitors in the Capitol would imperil security. Given the importance of the Capitol to D.C.’s tourist economy, it is time for the Capitol, like the rest of D.C. is already doing, to reopen to visitors. I urge the Capitol to follow D.C. and safely reopen.”

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Townhall spoke with Rep. Steil last week about his resolution to force Speaker Pelosi to open the Capitol, particularly the People's House. He raised concerns not only for tour groups who wanted to see the Capitol, and for those who wanted meetings with their representatives, but whistleblowers who may have concerns with having to register and sign in. 

President Joe Biden had just given his State of the Union address to a largely maskless audience. At one point in his speech, the president mentioned that "thanks to the progress we have made this past year, COVID-19 need no longer control our lives."

Further, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) had also just recently updated their mask guidelines to loosen preventive measures for those counties where there is "low" or "medium" risk when it comes to the virus. The District of Columbia is still listed as being in the "low" risk category, as it was last week as well. 

"Two Democratic aides confirmed to The Hill that bicameral discussions are underway for a phased reopening of the Capitol. But such a reopening is likely at least weeks away," Marcos also noted. 

Rep. Steil's resolution currently has the support of 80 House members, his office informed Townhall.

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