Citing concerns about recent deadly threats to lawmakers, including the 6 January attack on the Capitol, the Republican Senate and House re-election committees asked the Federal Election Commission for an opinion on whether lawmakers could use campaign funds to pay for security for themselves and their family.
“In light of current events involving concrete threats of physical violence against Members and their families, Members have been compelled to consider further security measures for themselves and their families,” wrote the National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Republican Congressional Committee in a letter dated 26 January.
The message to the electoral regulator mentions the attack on the Capitol, as well as other high-profile incidents of violence towards lawmakers, such as the 2011 and 2017 shootings of US representatives Gabby Giffords and Steve Scalise.
During the attack on the Capitol, which came as Congress was formally certifying the election results despite a spurious challenge from top Republicans, lawmakers narrowly escaped the violent mob, which eventually led to five deaths.
The letter maintains a legal and bipartisan tone, mentioning incidents of people threatening figures ranging from House speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose home was vandalised earlier this year, including with a severed pig’s head, to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, whom gun control demonstrators threatened to stab in the heart in 2019.
It also warns, citing recent reporting from the Associated Press, that the ongoing second impeachment of Donald Trump has authorities worried that “plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex” could occur.
Earlier this month, the Department of Homeland Security warned that the US faced a growing risk from “violent domestic extremists,” who had been inspired in part by “the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives,” a likely reference to continued insistence from president Trump and other top Republicans that voting fraud cost him re-election, a notion that has been conclusively debunked.