Despite security concerns, Schneider and Foster still plan to attend inauguration

  • U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield, right, shelters with others in the gallery of the U.S. House on Wednesday as rioters try to break in. Schneider called security at the Capitol "a colossal failure" and called for an investigation.

    U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield, right, shelters with others in the gallery of the U.S. House on Wednesday as rioters try to break in. Schneider called security at the Capitol "a colossal failure" and called for an investigation. Associated Press

  • U.S. Rep. Bill Foster

      U.S. Rep. Bill Foster Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2020

  • U.S. Rep. Sean Casten

      U.S. Rep. Sean Casten Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2020

  • U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider meets with the Daily Herald editorial board in 2019.

      U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider meets with the Daily Herald editorial board in 2019. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, 2019

 
 
Updated 1/8/2021 4:22 PM

Despite concerns about U.S. Capitol security after Wednesday's incursion by a violent mob, at least two suburban congressional representatives still plan to attend President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration there Jan. 20.

Neither U.S. Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville nor U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider of Deerfield said the attack changes how they feel about their safety at the upcoming ceremony, which is set for the Capitol's West Front.

 

"None of these large-scale events are risk-free," Foster said.

But Foster called for "an immediate and serious" review of security plans for the inauguration in the wake of the insurrection at the Capitol this week.

Schneider had a similar attitude. While acknowledging that personal safety is a concern at any event, Schneider called the siege, which left a U.S. Capitol Police officer and four other people dead, a "colossal failure" of security.

"There are a lot of questions that need to be answered," he said.

Capitol Police are charged with protecting Congress. One day after the riot, Chief Steven Sund announced his resignation. The House's and Senate's sergeants at arms, who are supposed to maintain order in the Capitol and assist with security, have resigned as well.

Schneider and Foster, both Democrats, are among the lawmakers calling for investigations into why Capitol Police were unable to stop the mob -- egged on by President Donald Trump during a rally earlier in the day -- from occupying the building while the House and Senate gathered to confirm Biden's victory over Trump.

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Capitol Police turned to other law enforcement for help as the mob overwhelmed and vandalized the complex, stole property and generally wreaked havoc.

While Foster wasn't there, Schneider was forced to take cover in the House chamber gallery as police aimed weapons at insurrectionists to keep them out.

Schneider said the riot was predictable and preventable.

"This city knows how to deal with violent protests," he said. "We knew there was going to be trouble. The stakes (of Wednesday's joint session) were high."

But the security perimeter around the Capitol was insufficient to stop the crowd, Schneider said, as was the number of police on the scene.

"(An) unfortunate sequence of small breaks escalated to a colossal failure," he said.

The security breaches must be investigated, Schneider said. Foster agreed, noting several investigations are underway.

Foster especially wants to know if requests were made for law enforcement support at the Capitol ahead of Wednesday's congressional session.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Someone miscalculated badly about the size and intention of the mob that President Trump directed at the Capitol," Foster said.

Members of Congress each have been allotted two tickets for the inauguration -- one for themselves and one for a guest, just like for the State of the Union. Foster and Schneider said they'll be there.

When asked, Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten of Downers Grove didn't disclose his plans for the inauguration. But like Foster and Schneider, Casten called for a review of Capitol security.

Casten questioned the actions of some Capitol Police officers during the insurrection. While some amateur videos show officers trying to keep rioters back, others depict officers not attempting to stop people from breaching the building.

One video shows an officer posing for a selfie with a member of the mob.

"Such actions demand investigation," Casten said.

Casten, Foster and Schneider also noted the police response to Wednesday's mob was very different from how federal authorities responded to people protesting for racial justice in Washington this summer.

"That's one of the failures," Schneider said.

Other members of the suburban congressional delegation couldn't be reached for comment about the security failures this week and their plans for attending the inauguration.

The inauguration is a National Special Security Event overseen by the Secret Service and scores of other federal agencies, including the Defense Department, which helps lead counterterrorism efforts associated with the event.

Planning for a presidential inauguration begins the day after the previous ceremony and continues for four years, Schneider noted.

Plans for Biden's ceremony were scaled back because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the wake of Wednesday's mayhem, security forces are taking extra precautions.

Roughly 6,200 members of the National Guard from six states will help support the Capitol Police and other law enforcement in Washington for the next 30 days.

Crews also erected on the Capitol grounds tall, black metal fences designed to be impossible to climb. Similar structures have previously been used around the White House and in other cities that faced prolonged demonstrations.

"The safety and security of all those participating in the 59th Presidential Inauguration is of the utmost importance," the Secret Service said in a statement Thursday. "For well over a year, the U.S. Secret Service, along with our NSSE partners, has been working tirelessly to anticipate and prepare for all possible contingencies at every level to ensure a safe and secure Inauguration Day."

• The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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