SPOKANE, Wash. – The shooting in Alexandria, Virginia Wednesday morning has many asking questions about how security works for congressional leaders.
James Hodgkinson, 66, opened fire on a Republican congressional baseball team practicing on a suburban Virginia field, wounding Louisiana congressman Steve Scalise and shooting four other people.
KREM 2 contacted Representative offices of Cathy McMorris Rogers, Senator Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and even Idaho Representative Raul Labrador's office to find out how or if their security detail will change because of the shooting. Each office either has not returned our calls or have decided not to comment.
KREM 2 has learned Capitol Police in Washington D.C. provides security for only a small number of congressional members. The number includes party leadership, which is the House Speaker, House and Senate Majority and minority leaders, and House and Senate Whips.
Lawmakers have praised the mandatory protection for party leadership saying the incident could have gone much worse had Majority Whip Steve Scalise not been present with Capitol Police Officers.
"It was just fortunate because Steve Scalise is a member of leadership. He has a security detail there. Otherwise we would just be a bunch of guys out there on a normal morning, practicing," said Rep. Pat Meehan (R-PA). “I think the fact that we practice every morning and it's a group of Congress people together 25 to 30 people, it may have been something that somebody was able to anticipate, and we were vulnerable."
In the early years of the Capitol Police Department, their area of authority did not exceed the neighboring walks and streets adjacent to the Capitol Building. The security details have since greatly expanded much farther than that after the fatal shooting of two Capitol officers.
Officials said there are times when members of Congress who are not party leadership are given added protection in response to specific concerns.