US Senate urge new security after riot

·2-min read

Two Senate committees assessing security at the US Capitol in light of January's deadly attack have recommended giving the Capitol Police chief greater authority and developing plans for rapid response by the Pentagon.

During the January 6 riot by supporters of then-president Donald Trump, the Pentagon spent hours assessing pleas for help from Capitol Police, the committees found in a bipartisan report. The violence left five dead.

When finally deployed by the Pentagon, DC National Guard troops did not arrive at the Capitol until about 5.20pm, nearly three hours after they were requested and by which time the House and Senate chambers had already been declared secure.

The Senate rules and homeland security committees in the report recommend empowering the Capitol Police chief to ask directly for DC National Guard help in an emergency.

The current procedure requires the chief to get a Capitol Police Board emergency declaration first then Pentagon authorisation, though board approval did not happen on January 6.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat who chairs the rules committee, said she and Republican Senator Roy Blunt would introduce legislation to make the change.

A Senate aide said the committees found no evidence of foot-dragging at the White House that delayed the National Guard response.

The 95-page document noted Trump encouraged his supporters to go to the Capitol. A copy of his speech was appended to the report but it did not discuss his role.

The committee leaders acknowledged the report confined its focus to intelligence gathering, security preparations and emergency response. It did not explore the motivation for the attack.

The committees complained they did not get all the information they had sought from several agencies.

Gary Peters, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told reporters the report was not intended to be a substitute for a bipartisan commission that could investigate further.

Late last month, Senate Republicans blocked legislation to set up a bipartisan commission that would have the power to force witnesses, possibly including Trump, to testify under oath about what happened that day.

Republican opponents said the Senate committees' probe, as well as ongoing prosecutions, are enough investigation.