House upholds $5,000 fine on Texas congressman who ducked metal detector


The House ethics committee said Tuesday it has upheld a $5,000 fine imposed on Rep. Louie Gohmert for failing to go through metal detectors when he entered the floor of the House chamber last month.

Mr. Gohmert, Texas Republican, had argued he had been screened, then left the chamber to go to the bathroom, and didn’t see the need to go back through the detectors.

But the ethics committee rejected that appeal, saying it would have taken a majority vote to overturn the fine in the panel. The committee didn’t divulge the vote, but its membership is evenly divided between the parties so it would have taken a bipartisan effort to expunge the penalty.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led the push to add metal detectors and impose fines — $5,000 for a first offense and $10,000 for a second — after the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 and after breathless news reports that some lawmakers have concealed carry permits.

Mrs. Pelosi said the enemy of Congress “is within.”

She stationed Capitol Police officers at entrances to the House chamber and required every member to be screened before entering.

Republicans called the deployment a waste of resources, arguing members of Congress aren’t threats and the officers could be better used patrolling the Capitol complex.

Mr. Gohmert, after he was slapped with the fine in early February, said he’d been complying with the new rule and had never been asked to go through the screening again when he’d just departed the floor to go to the bathroom.

He said the officers witnessed him make the short trip to the restroom and back.

“Unlike in the movie ‘The Godfather,’ there are no toilets with tanks where one could hide a gun, so my reentry onto the House floor should have been a non-issue,” he said.

He says the fines are unconstitutional.

Republicans have also accused Mrs. Pelosi of breezing by the detectors on one occasion without being screened.

The sergeant-at-arms has said it’s up to officers to flag violations and no officer ever flagged Mrs. Pelosi.

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