According to a letter shared exclusively with The Federalist, House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy demanded on Thursday that Capitol administrators start planning to reopen the complex.
McCarthy, who announced his candidacy for speaker Wednesday expecting Republicans to retake the House after Tuesday’s midterms, wrote to legislative branch officials that two-and-a-half years of closure was long enough.
“It has been 2 years, 7 months, and 29 days since the People’s House closed,” McCarthy wrote. “That means for 973 days, the American People have been restricted from exercising their constitutional right to petition the first branch of government… That posture is no longer acceptable.”
McCarthy demanded Capitol managers present plans to congressional leadership for reopening by Jan. 3, the first day of the new Congress.
“Reopening the House is more than just a symbolic measure,” McCarthy wrote. “Government of the people, by the people, and for the people requires interaction with the people. It is for this reason that we must welcome Americans from across this nation back to the Halls of Congress.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi closed the Capitol complex early in the coronavirus pandemic, when Democrats implemented lockdowns lasting months from coast to coast. The Capitol remained no exception, where Democrats promptly implemented proxy voting as a temporary measure to become permanent under Pelosi’s tenure. Initially put in place to protect members from exposure to the novel virus, proxy voting quickly became abused by representatives to blow off elected duties.
McCarthy corralled more than 100 Republicans to launch a lawsuit ending proxy voting that was ultimately rejected by the courts.
Once protesters compromised Capitol security on Jan. 6, 2021 — a consequence of Pelosi’s refusal to preemptively mobilize the National Guard six times — the speaker ramped up security with an expanded perimeter complete with militarized barricades. The enhanced border was eventually trimmed down six months later, but the complex remained largely closed to visitors and tourists.
“I hope we can all agree that 973 days is more than long enough for the American People to be shut out of their government,” McCarthy wrote Thursday.