Security measures are increasing for members of Congress as they travel into and out of Washington, D.C. The last week has proven challenging for lawmakers traveling back to their home states and back into Washington, D.C. The increase in incidents against lawmakers has brought new safety measures into place.
A “House Alert” was sent to members of Congress on Saturday. In it, according to a report in Axios, the House Sergeant at Arms “and the U.S. Capitol Police have partnered with the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority and the United States Air Marshals to increase security for Members of Congress while traveling to and from Washington D.C.” In the past week, the activities of January 6 instigated harassment toward Senator Mitt Romney at the Salt Lake City Airport and Senator Lindsey Graham at Reagan National Airport. Rep. Al Green, a Houston Democrat, was also surrounded by a group of people angry about his actions as he traveled back to Houston. In the case of Green, he was harassed by yelling Trump supporters during a flight change in the Nashville airport. In a local report of that incident, it was reported that airport security escorted Green away from the crowd. Both Romney and Graham are shown on videos walking away from their critics alone, on their own. At the time I saw the report on Green during our local evening news here in Houston, I noticed that Green received assistance from security, which apparently neither Romney nor Graham were given.
The “Travel Security Notification for Members of Congress” encouraged lawmakers to submit their flight itineraries to House security officials, who “will make notifications to the appropriate law enforcement agencies to ensure an increased security posture.”
“Agents from the U.S. Capitol Police will also be stationed at BWI, IAD and DCA airports through the Inauguration to assist in security coordination.”
Members and staff were encouraged to “remain vigilant of their surroundings and immediately report anything unusual or suspicious.”
Also on Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will “pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of a flight” due to incidents last week. Federal Aviation Administration chief Steven Dickson, a former airline pilot, issued the statement and said unruly actions by airline passengers are taken seriously. Penalties will range from monetary fines to jail time.
Alaska Airlines Inc. said it had banned 14 passengers after a rowdy flight from an airport near Washington, D.C., to Seattle on Thursday — a day after a huge crowd encouraged by President Donald Trump stormed Congress. The passengers refused to wear required face coverings and harassed crew members, the company said.
Numerous other incidents on flights were reported on social media as the Trump supporters traveled to Washington and flew home after Wednesday’s events. Flight attendant unions have also issued press releases condemning the behavior.
Airlines began speaking out during the course of last week, including the union of flight attendants, The Association of Flight Attendants. Saturday their message was every “airline flying out of the region over the last several days has experienced incidents onboard.” They cited “unruly behavior” of passengers including the refusal of some to wear face masks that are required by the airlines.
I wrote about the not so friendly skies last week. Alcohol sales due to the coronavirus pandemic have been stopped on flights, except for first-class passengers. That, too, has changed due to bad behavior by some flyers on American Airlines. Other airlines are considering doing the same.
Democrat Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, asked the TSA and FBI to add people to the no-fly list. I must have missed this call to action from Thompson for the domestic terrorists labeled as peaceful protesters during the Summer of Love.
“This should include all individuals identified as having entered the Capitol building—an intrusion which threatened the safety of Members of Congress and staff and served as an attack on our Nation,” Thompson said in a statement.
“Alleged perpetrators of a domestic terrorist attack who have been identified by the FBI should be held accountable.”
Five non-career top employees of the FAA resigned Thursday, the same day that Elaine Choa, Secretary of Transportation, became the first Trump cabinet member to resign.
“This evening the Secretary and the Administrator received resignation letters from all our non-career staff members here at FAA,” wrote FAA chief of staff Angela Stubblefield. “These resignations will be effective Monday evening. Our colleagues’ decisions, given the gravity of yesterday’s events, are understandable. Like all of us, they are outraged by the brazen and violent attack on one of the sacred institutions of American democracy.”
FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson alluded to the departures in a video message posted Thursday that denounced Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.
Dickson thanked them for “their extraordinary leadership in this agency, their steadfast focus on safety and their tremendous support that they have given me.”
The FAA reminds passengers of penalities for unruly behavior. “Airline passengers: Unruly behavior on an airplane may violate federal law. You could face jail time and fines up to $35K. Always follow crew instructions. They are there to keep everyone safe.”