Capitol Police brief the Squad, prominent progressives on security amid uptick in threats

Capitol Police brief the Squad, prominent progressives on security amid uptick in threats

Prominent progressive members of Congress received a security briefing from the Capitol Police Thursday amid a major uptick in threats against them since the attack on Israel this weekend, according to three people familiar with the situation.

The lawmakers, which included Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Summer Lee (D-Pa.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), make up some of the party’s left wing on foreign policy and have at times been critics of the Israeli government.

The high-profile elected officials have also been magnets for broadsides from conservative media, which has often singled them out for their views.

The Jan. 6 insurrection and recent assaults on lawmakers have prompted concerns from members of Congress across the political spectrum about their safety in a polarized political environment.

A Capitol Police spokesperson said the department conducted several briefings Thursday about their increased security posture. The Hill’s police force said separately Thursday that it was “enhancing” security around the Capitol complex as Hamas warned of a “day of action” on Friday. Although the Capitol Police said there weren’t specific threats towards Congress, they were acting out of an abundance of caution.

Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) told her colleagues at the group’s closed-door weekly meeting Thursday that they need to support their colleagues who are under attack, according to two people familiar with her remarks. Tlaib and other progressives had been subject to criticism from conservatives and some Democrats for stances that were viewed as insufficiently condemning Hamas’ terror attacks, something they have contested.

“We will always stand up for the diverse viewpoints of our members,” Jayapal said in a statement.

Tlaib said in a statement Wednesday, “I do not support the targeting and killing of civilians, whether in Israel or Palestine. The fact that some have suggested otherwise is offensive and rooted in bigoted assumptions about my faith and ethnicity.”

The lawmakers briefed are women of color, and Tlaib and Omar are the first two Muslim women ever elected to Congress.

Rep. Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on a panel overseeing Capitol security, said in a brief interview he was “very concerned” about lawmakers’ safety amid the heated rhetoric over the conflict in the Middle East and had spent much of Thursday talking with the Hill’s security officials about lawmaker security.

“I think we’re taking all necessary steps and the Capitol Police and Sergeant at Arms, I think are doing a great job,” he said. “I think we have it in hand, but it bears constant vigilance.”

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