Speaker’s Lobby reopens to journalists after pandemic and fatal Jan. 6 police shooting

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The Speaker’s Lobby outside the House Chamber fully reopened Tuesday to reporters – after access was limited because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then declared off limits after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

On Jan. 6, Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old military veteran, was shot and killed by a U.S. Capitol Police officer, as she attempted to climb through a broken window in a door leading to the lobby, in effort to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s Electoral College win. 

Capitol police have since bolstered security through the Capitol Building complex, including the lobby – the long, ornate room in which reporters go to talk with lawmakers, who along with staffers have recently been allowed to return.

As a result of the riot, security is stronger at the capitol including those attempting to enter the chamber and lobby submitting to a mandatory magnetometers scan to check for weapons.

“As long as there is a threat, we’ll have to have protection,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

In February, the House established a security rule that is now being fought in federal court by Georgia GOP Rep. Andrew Clyde who had to pay $15,000. The rule fines members $5,000 for failing to comply with security screenings and $10,000 for any subsequent violations. 

The lobby also no longer displays any portraits people who served in the confederacy, a change that occurred last year during the pandemic.

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