VIDEO: At Hearing With Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger, Chairwoman Klobuchar Highlights Capitol Security Improvements Since 1/6 Insurrection
KLOBUCHAR: “We will never forget the haunting words of an officer desperately calling out over the radio that day in the middle of the insurrection: ‘Does anyone have a plan?’...The answer, sadly, that day was ‘no.’...‘No’ will never be the answer again.”
KLOBUCHAR: “Because of the bravery of your officers, democracy prevailed.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, opened today’s hearing with Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger by highlighting Capitol security improvements implemented since the insurrection last year.
“We will never forget the haunting words of an officer desperately calling out over the radio that day in the middle of the insurrection: ‘Does anyone have a plan?’ ‘Does anyone have a plan?’ The answer, sadly, that day was ‘no.’ So we recommended the Capitol Police produce a Department-wide operational plan for all large-scale events at the Capitol – and that is now standard procedure. ‘No’ will never be the answer again.”
Building on this message, Klobuchar acknowledged the work ahead to continue strengthening the U.S. Capitol Police and protect the Capitol, including the need to hire additional officers and ensure the Department is equipped to confront the recent increase in threats targeting Members of Congress.
Klobuchar also recognized the brave law enforcement who defended the Capitol, noting their heroism to Manger: “And while it was a sorrowful day…I had this moment of thinking…‘in the end, because of the bravery of your officers, democracy prevailed.’”
Good morning, everyone. I call to order this hearing, which is the Rules Committee’s third oversight hearing of the United States Capitol Police – and the fifth Rules Committee hearing addressing the issues following the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
I would like to thank my friend Ranking Member Blunt and our colleagues for being here today. Thank you, Senator Leahy, for being here today, he played a major leadership role with your Appropriations Committee in getting the emergency supplemental funding that we needed after January 6th.
I especially want to thank our witness – Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger – who joined the Department nearly six months ago after a lifetime in law enforcement and is appearing before our Committee today for the first time. And we all of course are grateful to the men and women of the Capitol Police for the work that they do every single day.
Tomorrow marks one year since a violent mob staged an insurrection in an attempt to disrupt the peaceful transition of power while Congress was gathered to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election.
That mob desecrated our Capitol – the temple of our democracy – and delayed the counting of the electoral votes. But thanks to the heroism of the people that work with you, Chief, thanks to our brave law enforcement officers, we were able to return and finish our work.
I will never forget walking down to the House Chamber from the Senate floor with my friend Senator Blunt and Vice President Pence. It was 3:30 a.m. – 3:30 a.m. – and we walked through that hallway, broken glass on the sides, spray paint on the statues. Remembering that just that day, earlier, we had done this joyful walk for what is every four years the peaceful transition to power, no matter who wins, Democrat or Republican. And there we were, alone in that hallway, with two young women holding the mahogany box that had the last remaining electoral ballots up to the state of Wyoming. And while it was a sorrowful day, and you lost officers, and we had so many people injured, I had this moment of thinking while we walked down that hallway, “in the end, because of the bravery of your officers, democracy prevailed.”
Many of us remember the insurrection for what it was, as an attack on our democracy. But it was also, as we’ll talk about today, a brutal and prolonged physical attack for the law enforcement officers who risked their lives to defend the Capitol that day.
Tragically five officers who reported for duty have since passed away, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who died the day after the attack. Four other officers died in the days and months that followed: Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, D.C. Metropolitan Police Officers Jeffrey Smith, Gunther Hashida, and Kyle DeFreytag. And of course, we all remember Billy Evans who died in an incident unrelated to this attack.
Many more suffered physical injuries, and even more sustained emotional trauma from the events of that day.
We owe it to the Capitol Police officers who defend the Capitol every day to make sure that they have the resources and support they need to do their jobs.
That is why – in the immediate aftermath of the attack – this Committee convened a series of hearings, Senator Blunt and I, on a bipartisan basis, with every single member of this Committee involved, Democrat and Republican, joined forces with the Homeland Security Committee, and held these hearings. Out of that, came a bipartisan report that Senator Blunt and Senator Peters and Portman and I authored, with findings and 20 recommendations for agencies across the federal government to be implemented without delay.
As we approach this solemn anniversary, today we will hear – I know because I’ve read your testimony – that significant progress has been made to implement the recommendations that pertain to the Capitol Police. And I thank you and all your officers for that.
The changes made since January 6th, of course, started at the top. We said the Capitol Police Board must appoint a new Police Chief, and they selected you in July. We also have two new Sergeants at Arms. In the Senate, Leader Schumer appointed General Karen Gibson, who just finished a term as Board Chair – and who has worked to put recommendations in place. In the House, Speaker Pelosi appointed General William Walker, who led the D.C. National Guard on January 6th and, in fact, has testified before this Committee in that role.
As I note, on January 6th, we saw 75 percent of officers on duty forced to defend the Capitol in their regular uniforms, in plain clothes – in some cases they had less protective gear than the insurrectionists themselves. That’s why we recommended that the Capitol Police have enough officers with appropriate training and equipment–and in July, as I note, President Biden signed emergency funding legislation led in the Senate by Chairman Leahy to deliver resources to do exactly that.
We also saw the former Police Chief, that day, delayed for over an hour trying to get approval to call in the National Guard – in an absurd situation, he was trying to reach the Sergeant at Arms in order to follow the law, who in fact were trying to defend their own chambers at a time when shots had been fired and people had been killed. Senator Blunt and I introduced a bill, along with a number of other members of this Committee, including Senators King, Wicker, Feinstein, Capito, Merkley, Padilla, and Warner, and it was signed into law this month to make it easier for you, Chief, to call in the National Guard if ever such an emergency situation would arise again.
We will never forget, also, the haunting words of an officer desperately calling out over the radio that day in the middle of the insurrection: “Does anyone have a plan?” “Does anyone have a plan?” The answer, sadly, that day was “no.” So we recommended the Capitol Police produce a Department- wide operational plan for all large-scale events at the Capitol – and that is now standard procedure. “No” will never be the answer again.
We also heard how officers on the frontlines were left without critical information. We said the Department needed to take significant action to improve its handling of intelligence, and it has worked to ensure information is shared with rank-and-file officers.
So while there is so much to do – including, as we know, hiring multiple additional officers, and I’m sure you’ll be asked about that today, as well as making sure the Department is equipped to respond to the dramatic increase in threats against Members of Congress, which have now exceeded by your reports over 9000 in the last year. More than we have ever seen double, triple what we have seen, completely related to what we saw on January 6th. And that, of course, is a challenge for your department to respond to.
To close I will note that while today we will discuss the steps that have been taken and the work that lies ahead to ensure the security of our nation’s Capitol, there must also be more done to safeguard the future of our very democracy. I continue to support the work of the House Select Committee to bring the underlying causes of the insurrection to light to hold people accountable for what happened. And it is crucial as ever, in addition to that, that we pass legislation to protect the freedom to vote in the Senate.
Because at this moment, we are dealing with a slew of laws that have either been introduced or passed around the country, major overhauls to legislation, that make it harder for people to vote. It is as if what wasn’t accomplished with bear spray and bayonets is now attempting to be accomplished through laws that limit voting on weekends. Laws that limit ballot dropboxes to one in a major city. Laws that literally disband nonpartisan voting boards to be replaced by partisan counting of the votes. That is what we’re seeing across the country right now. It is not the subject of this hearing, but it is clearly related to what happened on January 6th.
With that, we look forward to hearing from you, Chief Manger, about the progress you have made and the work still to be done. Now I’ll turn it over to my good friend Senator Roy Blunt. And I thank him again, on a bipartisan basis, for working through, and this entire Committee, what we needed to do to make the security recommendations for changes, the funding for changes, the legal provisions for changes, as well as the respect and dignity that your officers deserved and deserve every day. Thank you Senator Blunt.
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