On late Thursday night, U.S. Scott Franklin, R-Fla., took to the floor of the U.S. House to urge U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., remove the razor wire wall surrounding the U.S. Capitol and allow public access.
With 75 percent of members having been vaccinated, Franklin also advised the speaker to resume normal operations in the House. He noted the House should end proxy voting, begin in-person committee meetings, and return to regular order.
Franklin said the following:
Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of public access to this House—the people’s House. While I’ve only been a member since January 3rd, as a former naval aviator who had the privilege to travel to over 40 countries, I know the importance of our free and open democracy—in both a figurative and literal sense.
I was on the House floor on January 6th when the violence erupted. As we continue to investigate the tragedy that resulted, the military fortress erected in response is a gross, gross overcorrection.
Capitol Police have indicated there is no credible threat to justify maintaining this security posture. On March 4th, facing non-specific rumors of a potential threat, the House rushed to conclude work the night before and did not meet. Not only was the threat unfounded, but the Senate—operating under the same security protocols as the House—was open and conducting the People’s business. The same Senate that’s only a few yards down the hall behind us. And speaking of the differences between the two chambers, doesn’t it seem odd that the same House impeachment managers who testified before the Senate without masks, would insist that I be fined if I take my mask off right now—even though I’ve been vaccinated and there’s no one around me.
In addition to dismantling this fortress, we should begin relaxing the protocols put in place a year ago to limit the spread of COVID. Today, all House members have been offered the vaccine, and roughly 75 percent have been vaccinated. Many of the remaining 25 percent have antibodies from being infected previously.
There is no justification for this House to continue operating in a quasi-virtual state. The CDC has issued new guidelines easing mask and social distancing for the nearly 32 million people who are fully vaccinated.
It’s time to end the proxy voting, begin in-person committee meetings, and return to regular order. Our strength as an institution relies on personal relationships and the ability to build alliances where we find common interest. As a freshman, I have yet to meet most of my colleagues. We should be working to find common ground, and that is simply not possible in a virtual meeting.
Mr. Speaker, as the new administration acts to tear down the wall at our southern border, we have a new one right here paralyzing the seat of democracy. The hypocrisy is obvious, and it’s shameful. This is no longer about safety; it’s about making every effort to create disruption and hide what is really going on from the American people. It’s time to take down the razor wire fencing, send the troops home, and open the people’s House to the public.