Rep. Burton’s resolution to encase House gallery in Plexiglass not likely to succeed

Jeff Winkler Contributor
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It looks like the third time won’t be a charm for Republican Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana. A review of his resolution to encase the House visitors’ galleries with Plexiglass will likely not pass the House Administration Committee, whose chairman “will not support the bill.”

Sixteen days after the shooting in Arizona that left six dead and Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously injured, Burton submitted House Res. 50,“[Providing] for enclosing the visitors’ galleries of the House of Representatives with a clear and bomb-proof material.”

The resolution was immediately referred to the House Administration Committee, where it has sat since Jan. 24.

“At this point, there’s not any intention to move this bill through committee,” said Salley Wood, a spokeswoman for California Rep. Daniel Lungren, chairman of the HAC.

Wood said Lungren “does not support the bill.”

A spokesperson for Republican Rep. Todd Rokita of Indiana, another member of the HAC, said there was “not much traction on [the legislation],” but referred queries to the committee itself. The offices of several other representatives on the HAC similarly referred any questions regarding the resolution to the committee.

According to his press office, however, Republican Rep. Aaron Schock of Illinois, also a HAC member, “believes the capitol police are doing a great job providing security for the capitol.”

Burton’s proposal was considered unlikely to gain traction when it was first introduced. Nonetheless, in a piece last week published in Human Events, Burton called for “immediate action” in protecting the Senate and House floors by passing his proposal.

“The U.S. Capitol Building is simultaneously a national shrine, a tourist attraction and a working office building, and as such, it poses unique challenges for those trying to balance the competing needs of safety and openness,” wrote Burton.

The representative also offered a very detailed description of how a hypothetical “team of terrorists” could infiltrate the public viewing gallery and proceed with an attack that would be “catastrophic in loss of life and an acute psychological blow.” Burton, however, did stress that having the House enclosed in bomb-proof glass would “not have stopped Jared Loughner from stalking and shooting Rep. Giffords.”

While the recent shooting in Arizona helped catalyze him to introduce the legislation, this isn’t the first time Burton has proposed similar measures.

Citing several attacks — including two attempted terrorist attacks on the House floor and the attacks of Sept. 11 — Burton introduced similar legislation in 2007. He also co-sponsored another gallery-encasing bill in 1983, according to the Washington Post.

According to the House Rules Committee, if or when Burton’s proposal does drown in committee, he could push for a discharge petition, which would allow the legislation to skip any committee review and go straight to the House floor for a vote. In order to proceed in that manner, he would need the signatures of 218 members.

Burton’s office was unavailable for comment.

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