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Republican Rep. Rodney Davis Comments On Safety At The Capitol After Bomb Threat


For several nerve-wracking hours on Thursday, Capitol Hill was once again under threat of attack. This time, a North Carolina man parked his pickup truck in front of the Library of Congress directly across the street from the U.S. Capitol and said he had a bomb. Nearby buildings were put on lockdown or evacuated. He ultimately surrendered to Capitol Police, who did collect possible bomb-making materials from the truck. Illinois Representative Rodney Davis is the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, which oversees day-to-day operations in the House of Representatives. Congressman, thanks so much for coming back on the program.

RODNEY DAVIS: Thanks for having me on, Susan.

DAVIS: So what was your reaction to the incident that happened earlier this week?

R DAVIS: When I initially heard about it - remember, we're all out in our districts, so we're not in D.C. So I got a call from my team letting me know what was happening. And I was frustrated because our Capitol Police officers, who did a phenomenal job in this case - they're overworked right now. They've been overburdened since January 6 and even before that. And they deserve a lot of credit for the job that they're doing. And I just hate to see them put in another situation like they were just a few days ago.

DAVIS: A few weeks ago, Congress passed over $2 billion in new spending to beef up security around the Capitol in response to the January 6 attack. What's in that bill that's going to make the Capitol complex more secure?

R DAVIS: Well, number one, we're going to be able to get new officers for our Capitol Police to really help to refill their ranks. We're also going to see long-term investments into intelligence gathering and equipment needs that are going to put the Capitol Police in a much better security posture than they were on January 6.

DAVIS: Does anything in that bill mean - maybe intelligence reports, as you just noted - take into account the threat of what we saw this week, which is this sort of lone wolf type of attack?

R DAVIS: Well, everything we do to try and beef up security around the Capitol takes into consideration the lone wolf attacker, which - you know, those are are more frequent than what we saw in January 6...

DAVIS: Right.

R DAVIS: ...With, you know, the tragedies that we saw that day.

DAVIS: Do you have any concerns about ongoing rhetoric that undermines the 2020 election - that it was a free and fair election, particularly from members in your party? I know you're not one of them. But that rhetoric has helped to radicalize people like the man from this past week.

R DAVIS: Well, as you know, Susan, I've been talking about rhetoric and what it causes for those who are politically intoxicated to think that they can settle their differences by violence.

DAVIS: Right.

R DAVIS: As a matter of fact, I was doing an NPR interview the morning of the baseball shooting right before practice. And little did I know that while I was talking to NPR that morning, as Brad Wenstrup and I were going to practice in June of 2017, that I would be dodging bullets just a few minutes later. But that gunman was inspired by the rhetoric coming from people like Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi about Republicans killing people with our policies. I want it to stop all around. Rhetoric does have influence on those who are obviously deranged, and there are a lot of people that are deranged by politics right now.

DAVIS: But is it difficult in this current moment when you have former President Donald Trump still maintaining that it wasn't a fair election?

R DAVIS: Well, President Trump is not the first former president to talk about how the elections were not fair in their case. We witnessed this post-2016. And what we have to do is realize, though, that it's individuals responsible for that violence that should be held accountable. I didn't blame Bernie Sanders and Nancy Pelosi for a gunman trying to kill me and my friends. We all have our own responsibility to not resort to violence in any case.

DAVIS: There is a special committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Republicans, including yourself, withdrew from the committee because Speaker Pelosi had blocked two of your Republican colleagues from serving on it. Do you in any way regret that decision? Is it - and is it worth reconsidering to get back on it, so there's more than just the Democratic viewpoint reflected in upcoming hearings?

R DAVIS: Not at all. This is a committee that is set up to be a partisan committee. This is exactly what Speaker Pelosi, I believe, wanted, even though she talked to me on January 6 at the speaker's dais about doing - putting together a bipartisan, bicameral commission, which I introduced the bill to do so. This is nothing more than a partisan attempt at trying to put party politics...

DAVIS: All right.

R DAVIS: ...Ahead of, actually, a situation where we do need a real, true, independent investigation.

DAVIS: All right. Congressman Rodney Davis of Illinois, thanks for your time.

R DAVIS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.