The US House of Representatives suspended its planned Thursday session after Capitol police on Wednesday warned that a militia group could plan to break into the building that was subjected to a deadly attack on January 6.
The House had planned to debate and vote on a police reform bill, but a Democratic assistant said the plans were changed in part because of the police alert, based on intelligence that “an identified militia group” could pose a security threat.
The Senate will convene as scheduled to begin debating President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID-19 settlement bill on Thursday.
Authorities say right-wing extremists were among a crowd of supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol on January 6 and suspended formal certification of Biden’s election victory.
Some right-wing conspiracy theorists have wrongly claimed that Trump, defeated by Biden in the November 3 election, will be sworn in for a second term on Thursday.
The Justice Department has accused more than 300 people of taking part in the siege of the Capitol in January, in which five people, including a police officer, were killed. Among those arrested were members of right-wing groups called Oath Keepers, Three Procenters and Proud Boys. Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are armed militia groups.
“The Capitol Police Department in the United States is aware of and prepared for any threats against members of Congress or the Capitol complex,” it said in a statement.
It said it was working with local, state and federal agencies “to stop all threats to the Capitol,” adding, “We take intelligence seriously.” It did not reveal intelligence.
The statement noted that the police have made “significant security upgrades” at the Capitol, where the US House of Representatives and Senate are located.
On Tuesday, Acting House Sergeant at Arms Timothy Blodgett informed congressmen of a possible security threat that extends Thursday through Saturday. It referred to “potential protests and demonstration activities around what some have described as ‘the true inauguration day’.”
For almost a century, US presidents have been inaugurated on January 20, including Biden, who took the oath because of the Capitol. Earlier, March 4 had been the day of the sword.
Acting Chief of Police Capitol Yogananda Pittman testified before Congress on February 25 that Trump supporters who launched the attack in January have shown that they want to “blow up” the building and kill lawmakers.
Since January 6, National Guard troops have been sent to the Capitol bases and high fences have been erected to extend the security border. Blodgett told lawmakers that the Capitol Police Department has “improved” its security position.
Congress has held hearings on the riot and congressional leaders are expected to receive recommendations for new, permanent security measures at the Capitol.
The House accused Trump on January 13 of inciting an uprising, focusing on a burning speech he made to supporters just before the mob converged on the Capitol. The Senate acquitted him on February 13.