A report published on Sunday raises new safety and security concerns for the nation’s highest elected officials.
According to sources familiar with the situation cited by CBS News, over 50 senators have been provided with satellite phones for emergency communication in response to rising concerns about the security threats facing members of Congress. The devices are among several new security measures being offered to senators by the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who assumed the position shortly after the attack on the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to the report.
According to reports, the offer of a satellite phone has been extended to all 100 senators. According to CBS News, at least fifty senators have chosen to accept these phones and, per Senate administrative staff’s recommendation, have been instructed to keep the devices readily accessible while traveling.
Senate Sergeant of Arms Karen Gibson testified in April before the Senate Appropriations Committee that satellite communication is provided “to ensure a redundant and secure means of communication during a disruptive event.”
Gibson explained that the satellite phones serve as a security fallback in the event that an emergency disrupts the communication infrastructure in certain regions of the country. The federal government will pay for the satellite airtime required to use these phones, CBS News reported, adding:
According to a Department of Homeland Security advisory, satellite phones can be utilized to respond to and coordinate government services in the event of a “man-made” or natural calamity that disrupts communication.
Gibson has also opened a “demonstration space” in the basement of the Russell Senate Office Building to showcase new home state office security improvements to senators and staff. The demonstration room features displays of “duress buttons,” mail filtering devices, and safety glass for preventing attacks.
“Our team provided initial physical security enhancements for 31 offices and improved existing security for 52 others in 2022,” Gibson noted in her April testimony. “Maintaining security systems in good working order is a priority, and to support this effort our team conducted over 622 service calls to maintain, repair, and or test and inspect state office physical security systems in 2022.”
Senate administrators have also offered to provide lawmakers and employees with “stop the bleed” training in order to swiftly treat injuries and wounds.
During an April briefing, House Sergeant at Arms William McFarland informed legislators that participation in a program aimed at enhancing the security of House members’ residences has been substantial.
McFarland added that House administrators are actively collaborating with local law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of members of Congress at events conducted in their home states and to enhance the security of their residences.
“The new satellite phone system is one part of a new security program that includes hardening lawmaker offices and homes and seems geared towards domestic unrest that could threaten other communications networks like cell service,” said a private domestic intelligence firm Forward Observer in its daily subscriber brief on Monday.
More on this story via Conservative Brief:
In late 2022, Congress approved a spending measure allocating extra funds for hometown security initiatives concerning Congress. The legislation mandated security administrators “enhance member protection including providing a security program for Congressional Leadership, expanding Dignitary Protection Division services and expanding USCP field office presence.” The expansion would extend Capitol Police protection to cities beyond Washington, D.C., as well. CONTINUE READING…