Capitol fencing removed 77 days after deadly riot; security remains an issue amid domestic threat

WASHINGTON — An imposing fence-line strung with razor wire has been removed from the outer perimeter of the U.S. Capitol complex, more than two months after the deadly siege.

Capitol Police said Wednesday that local streets blocked by the network of barriers also had been re-opened to traffic, though authorities said they are prepared to “quickly ramp up security at a moment’s notice, if needed.”

An inner-perimeter fence around the actual Capitol building will remain in place while police and lawmakers continue to hash out a long-term security plan.

Last week, Timothy Blodgett, the acting House sergeant at arms, signaled that the heavy security footprint would be relaxed. In a memo to members of Congress, Blodgett said that “there does not exist a known, credible threat against Congress or the Capitol Complex that warrants the temporary security fencing.”

What we know: Capitol fence remains contentious 2 months after riot

A security fence outside the U.S. Capitol on Friday. (Photo: Jack Gruber, Jack Gruber-USA TODAY)

A security review headed by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré recommended adopting movable fences that could be deployed and dismantled for specific threats.

Emboldened by the Capitol breach and fueled by conspiracy theories promoting violence, domestic extremists “will almost certainly’’ attempt to strike again this year, U.S. officials said in a threat assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, National Counterterrorism Center, FBI and Department of Homeland Security declassified last week. 

The House and Senate must still debate what security options to pursue and how much to spend. The fencing had cost about $1.2 million per week.

The Capitol fences had been contentious for weeks, as lawmakers of both parties criticized the the fortress-like transformation that severely restricted access to local residents and visitors.

Removal of the heavy security perimeter allows for pedestrian access, though bike racks are expected to positioned around House office buildings.

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