House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) played down the decision to cancel House votes for Thursday morning, arguing that the move was as much about accommodating Republicans attending their annual issues retreat as it was about heeding warnings that an unnamed militant group planned to breach the Capitol.
“We had a short schedule today because the Republicans are going to their issues conference,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference.
The House had originally been scheduled to hold votes Thursday morning. But the schedule was abruptly changed Wednesday, after Capitol security officials warned of credible threats of violence by right-wing extremists who have promoted the false claim that March 4 is the “true Inauguration Day” when former president Donald Trump will be sworn in for a second term.
The votes that had been scheduled for Thursday — on a policing reform bill and a voting rights bill — were instead held Wednesday night.
Asked Thursday whether the decision to scrap the day’s session amid the security threats sends a bad message, Pelosi replied, “No, I don’t think so.”
“We were going to be out by noon because we promised that to the Republicans — we would not prolong anything, because they are going to their issues conference. … So, it was really just as a convenience,” Pelosi said.
She noted that the Senate remains in session, “and they should be,” but that the House has “at least four times more people, and therefore all that that implies in terms of numbers of people in the Capitol, if in fact there’s any troublemakers around.”
“It made sense,” she added. “I don’t think anybody should take any encouragement that because some troublemakers might show up that we changed our whole schedule. No, we just moved it a few hours, and it largely will accommodate the Republicans going to their own session.”
House Sergeant-at-Arms Timothy P. Blodgett told lawmakers in a Wednesday memo that the Capitol Police have “enhanced their security posture” in response and noted that National Guard troops remained posted on the campus. The memo also encouraged members and staff to park in garages and use underground tunnels whenever possible, similar to the guidance they gave ahead of the Jan. 6 riot.