by Debra Heine
Two Republican lawmakers are suing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the fines they’ve been slapped with for violating her oppressive security screening rules.
Following the riot at the Capitol on January 6, Pelosi had magnetometers installed outside the chamber, and demanded that all House members be subjected to security screenings every time they enter.
Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) say Pelosi’s security measures are abusive and unconstitutional, and unless someone stands up to her “totalitarian” edicts, the abuses will only get worse.
The pair say some members have missed being able to cast votes on the floor because they were delayed by the magnetometers that now guard entrances to the chamber.
They announced their lawsuit in a news conference on Monday.
During a news conference in late January, Pelosi said “the enemy” was “within the House of Representatives” as well as outside its walls.
“So we want to have a scientific approach to how we protect members,” she told reporters. “I do believe and I have said this all along, that we’ll probably need a supplemental for more security for members when the enemy is within the House of Representatives. A threat that members are concerned about, in addition to what is happening outside.”
Pelosi later specified that she was referring to members of Congress who bring guns to the House floor.
“It means we have members of Congress who want to bring guns on the floor and have threatened violence on other members of Congress,” she said.
House Democrats in early February passed House Resolution 73 to impose exorbitant fines—$5,000 for first offense, and $10,000 for the second—on members who violate Pelosi’s orders to go through the metal detectors. The resolution was adopted on a a 216-210 vote.
A number of GOP members have objected to the security rules, arguing that they are unconstitutional, applied unevenly, and have even prevented Republican lawmakers from voting on bills. Moreover, as Clyde noted in the press conference on Monday, the Chief of Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told Republican Conference members during a security briefing in February, that there’s no intelligence from any source to indicate that any House member was a threat to any other member—so there’s absolutely no need for the extra security.
“The use of magnetometers as a condition of access to the House floor was truly political grandstanding by the Speaker and a clear violation of the Constitution,” Clyde declared.
Pelosi, however, insists that the metal detectors are needed to keep House members safe. It’s “beyond comprehension why any member would refuse to adhere to these simple, commonsense steps to keep this body safe,” she argued back in February.
Gohmert and Clyde were the first House members to be slapped with the hefty fines, which are taken directly from their $174,000 salaries.
Gohmert was fined $5,000 after he declined to undergo a second security screening after briefly leaving the House floor to use the restroom on Feb. 4. The Texas Republican noted in the lawsuit that he had not been asked to comply with an additional screening to reenter the chamber after using the restroom across the hall the day before.
Clyde was fined twice over two separate incidents, resulting in a total of $15,000 worth of fines. According to the lawsuit, Clyde entered the House chamber on Feb. 3 “without being screened by security personnel or passing through a magnetometer.”
Two days later, Clyde’s phone set off the magnetometer, but he declined to undergo a second screening and told security staff that “I have to vote.”
Gohmert told American Greatness that fines like that may not seem like much to a millionaire like Pelosi, but they are “prohibitive” for those who are not rich. Clyde said that House Resolution 73 treats lawmakers as if they are “guilty until proven innocent,” and is “an affront to America.”
So far, six House members have been issued fines for failing to comply with the security screenings. In addition to Gohmert and Clyde, those Reps are Hal Rogers (R-Ky.); Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.); Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.); and the only Democrat, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.).
All of the lawmakers have appealed the fines before the House Ethics Committee, and some have been more successful than others.
The House Ethics Committee upheld the fines issued against Gohmert and Clyde, but agreed last month to dismiss the fines against Clyburn and Rogers in what Gohmert and Clyde described as a “prisoner swap.”
The committee is comprised of five Democrats and five Republicans, and a majority must agree to dismiss a fine in order for an appeal to succeed.
A tie vote fails, Clyde explained to American Greatness, which puts Republicans at a disadvantage because they vote on principle, whereas the Democrats vote only on political grounds. The five GOP members of the committee voted against all of the fines because they believe them to be unconstitutional, but the Democrats only voted against the fines for Clyburn and Rogers, in the “prisoner swap.”
The cases involving the remaining lawmakers are reportedly still pending.
In their lawsuit filed in the D.C. district court, Gohmert and Clyde argue that the fines are violations of the Constitution’s 27th Amendment, which prohibits any change to the salaries of members of Congress until after an election has passed, as well as Article 1, section 6, which states that lawmakers are privileged from arrest while entering or leaving the chamber except for cases of treason, felony and breach of the peace.
Clyde and Gohmert further argued that the punitive measures have been selectively enforced against Republicans and alleged that numerous Democrats were also seen setting off the metal detectors without undergoing further screening but didn’t face fines.
Pelosi herself has bypassed the magnetometers to enter the House floor from a forbidden entrance, GOP lawmakers have pointed out.
“She opened the session on the floor, she came through what is known as the Speaker’s lobby,” Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) told Fox News in February. “We are all told, one Republican was fined for doing this just yesterday, that you cannot walk through those entrances unless you are disabled.”
Davis called Pelosi’s actions part of a “typical good for thee, not for me type of attitude that comes out of San Francisco.”
“Pay the fine Speaker Pelosi,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.
That was four months ago. Pelosi saw no repercussions for violating her own rule, and has since imposed another abusive edict. According to Gohmert and Clyde, the House now requires that lawmakers provide to the Sergeant at Arms the names of all their visitors via email.
The pair told American Greatness that this appeared to be evidence that Pelosi’s “abuses are growing,” and said they hope their lawsuit thwarts the Speaker’s totalitarian impulses.
In their lawsuit, the lawmakers argue that the fines amount to “a means of harassing democratically-elected representatives who are members of the opposition party in the House of Representatives.”
“Upon information and belief, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] has instituted an unconstitutional policy of enforcing the Screening Rule against only members of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives, and exempting members of the Democratic majority from its enforcement, resulting in only Republican members being fined and having their congressional salaries reduced, all for the purpose of creating a false narrative for the political benefit of the House Democratic majority,” the lawsuit states.
GOP lawmakers have also complained in recent months about Pelosi’s rules requiring masks in the House chamber during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Hill, “at least six Republicans were issued $500 fines last month for protesting the mask mandate after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask indoors or outdoors.
According to CNN, all 219 House Democrats say they have received the Covid-19 vaccination, while only 97 of the 211 Republicans say they have received the vaccine. However, 109 Republican offices refused to respond to CNN’s queries about the members’ “vaccination status.”
The Capitol’s attending physician issued new guidance last week allowing people who are fully vaccinated to no longer have to wear masks in the House chamber, but requiring people who are unvaccinated or “vaccination-indeterminate” to still wear them.
Now, according to Gohmert and Clyde, lawmakers are being asked to disclose their vaccination status to House leadership.
Gohmert told American Greatness that he considers the demand to be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which set standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without a person’s consent or knowledge.
Thomas Massie of Kentucky, who graduated from MIT with a masters in science, argued Thursday that there’s no reason for someone to get vaccinated if they already have antibodies from having had the infection.
When a reporter pressed Massie on whether or not he’d been vaccinated, the lawmaker shot back, “well first of all, it’s none of your business, but I’m going to tell you. I’m not vaccinated.” He said that until he could see some science proving that vaccines are helpful in people who already have antibodies, he wasn’t getting injected.
“I’m not a virologist, but I can read data,” he said. “Look at the data. I’m not going to get the vaccine until there’s data that shows that it will improve upon the immunity that’s been conferred to me as a result of a natural infection that I had.”
I don’t know what the GOP had for breakfast this morning but they were on a roll today. pic.twitter.com/j9E6mVdzHx
— The Dirty Truth (Josh) (@AKA_RealDirty) June 16, 2021
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Debra Heine reports for American Greatness.
Photo “United States Capitol” by Andrew Van Huss CC 4.0.