Some in Congress say security is needed for more members

Some congressmen say more security is needed

(WVUE) - Even before the tragic shooting near Washington D.C. that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition, security was on the minds of some members of the Congress.

"And if leadership cannot figure out a way to do it, I'll probably just introduce legislation to try to do it on my own. But it's serious. If you look at Al Green who's facing increased death threats...three years ago, Emmanuel Clever had his office bombed," said Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans.

Richmond had already asked House Speaker Paul Ryan about security before his close friend, Scalise, was seriously wounded while practicing in Alexandria, VA for Thursday night's congressional ballgame.

But Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy has a different opinion on security.

"There's a lot of discussion now among the congressmen and the senators on my side of the Capitol about giving people security, and I don't want security, I really don't. I don't want to live like that, I refuse to give in to it," Kennedy said.

But Kennedy wants the thermometer turned down on the caustic rhetoric that has taken hold in politics and everyday conversations.

"I'm shocked, but I'm not altogether surprised that something like this could happen, because in the past six months, it's really gotten bad," Kennedy said.

When Congress is not in session, it's not uncommon for members of the U.S. House and the Senate to return home to their districts and be out and about engaging with voters.

"I think that we should all have money in the budget, in our congressional budgets, so that we can hire security. Remember this: If you have a town hall and the person wants to do you harm, there are also hundreds or thousands of constituents that are there that could be harmed also," Richmond said.

"Elected officials like to be accessible in today's society due to the fact that we live in a free and open society," said political analyst Silas Lee, who teaches at Xavier University of Louisiana.

FOX 8 News asked about the concept of providing security for each member of the Congress.

"It will be a very delicate balance depending on who you talk to. …In this particular case, the voters will say, yes we understand the need for security. At the same time, voters also want to enhance public safety in their respective communities," said Lee.

And he said cost would be a factor.

"It's not only costly, but do we have the resources?  Not just financial but the labor resources. ...So it sounds good, but that's the other dimension, costs and human resources," Lee said.

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