The Washington Post: Fear, anger and trauma: How the Jan. 6 attack changed Congress

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  • Interviews with 20+ members reveal Congress is still on edge, fear of more violence remains
  • Threats against lawmakers are at an all-time high, with 9,600 being recorded in 2021
  • Metal detectors are in place to prevent lawmakers or their staff from trying to commit violence against each other
    • “This is — it’s kind of scary,” says Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA). “I’ve been thinking about if someone got in a heated argument on the floor, someone could run out and run through here with their gun and shoot somebody. I really think about that.” 
  • Some lawmakers and staff continue to receive help from counselors to deal with PTSD
  • Some Republicans have warned the increase in threats against lawmakers are worrisome and should not be ignored
  • Shouting matches are common occurrences, with the potential for actual physical confrontation lingering

The Washington Post’s Paul Kane, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany report: A year later, the House of Representatives can still look like a crime scene some days.

Five metal detectors ring the outer doors to prevent weapons from getting onto the chamber floor, including one that stands just a few feet from where a Capitol Police officer shot and killed a Jan. 6 rioter trying to crawl through a door just off the House floor.

But the detectors aren’t there to deter armed insurrectionists. Instead, those detectors are there to prevent lawmakers or their staff from trying to commit violence against each other.

Trust in one another, whether to clinch a critical legislative deal or to protect each other from violence, seems to be at an all-time low one year after the pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol with both Democrats and Republicans in their crosshairs.

The Democratic majority, which ordered that the metal detectors be put in place a few days after the attack, grew so frightened of some GOP colleagues that they stripped two of their committee posts after learning of violent social media comments directed at high-profile Democrats. A third is awaiting a possible similar punishment.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it. We never were threatened with people who carry guns and had to set up machines by which to detect whether or not we were armed,” said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), a 31-year veteran of Congress, standing next to one of the detectors.

“This is — it’s kind of scary.”

Republicans, rather than reining in their most controversial members, have dug in with their support for them and now accuse Democrats of a massive overreaction to the threats against the Capitol.

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), who voted to certify Joe Biden’s win and supported an independent commission to investigate Jan. 6, accused Democrats of painting every Republican with an overly broad brush and stoking fear that any lawmaker actually wants to commit violence. And Davis contends that Democrats overlooked their own poor actions — Waters encouraged protesters to get “more confrontational” if a Minneapolis jury acquitted a police officer last April — while only punishing Republicans.

“They manufactured a false narrative about Republican members being a threat to Democrat members and passed a rule requiring members to go through magnetometers or face fines. In practice only Republican members have been fined,” Davis said during a Dec. 17 hearing of the House Administration Committee.

But fear, and the trauma from last year’s attack, continue throughout the Capitol. Some lawmakers and staff continue to receive help from counselors to deal with post-traumatic stress. Shouting matches are common occurrences, with the potential for actual physical confrontation lingering.

Read more from Paul Kane, Marianna Sotomayor and Jacqueline Alemany: https://wapo.st/3sNPalQ

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