House sergeant-at-arms will pay thousands for lawmakers' home security

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(WASHINGTON) — Starting next month, the House sergeant-at-arms’ office will cover the cost of installing and maintaining security equipment at the residences of member lawmakers — an effort to ensure the safety of legislators and their families amid what authorities call rising threats to them.

A memo sent Monday to all House members and their staff, obtained by ABC News, outlines up to $10,000 in upgrades and monthly monitoring fees that will be covered by the program beginning Aug. 15.

The enhanced security measures come a year after the Capitol riot and most recently in the wake of the attempted assault on New York Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is also the state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, at one of his campaign events on Friday. Authorities claim the 43-year-old suspect climbed on stage and attempted to stab Zeldin with a weapon, swinging it toward the lawmaker’s neck and saying, “You’re done.”

State police contacted the Zeldin campaign later, ABC News reported, continuing discussions about his security.

The sergeant-at-arms, the chief law enforcement and protocol office for the House, will pay for fixed-rate monitoring and maintenance costs of up to $150 per month for each lawmaker, according to the memo. Eligible equipment includes motion sensors, indoor and outdoor cameras, exterior lighting and wiring and monitors, among other systems, Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker wrote.

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Each member will select a bona fide security company — subject to review — which will install any of the equipment. Installation can proceed once price quotes are submitted and approved, with the sergeant-at-arms’ office paying the vendor directly.

Some lawmakers have used their campaign accounts to pay for private security and additional protective measures, especially after the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The number of threats aimed at congressmembers has also been sharply rising, Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said in January when he testified before the Senate.

“The biggest challenge I think we have is keeping up with the number of threats,” Manger said then. “We’ve doubled the number of officers that investigate these threats. … If they continue to go up the way they have, clearly we’re going to need additional officers to assign to this responsibility.”

An analysis last year of campaign finance records by Mother Jones found that in the three months after Capitol attack, more members of Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — had hired security or upgraded their home security systems than at any point in the past decade.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spent $47,000 — more than she spent during the entirety of 2020 — on security, the analysis found. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney spent $58,000 for protection in the first three months of 2021. Before that, she had not used campaign funds for security.

A separate New York Times analysis of House campaign monies found that Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene spent more campaign funds — nearly $183,000 — on personal security in the early months of 2022 than any other person running for office this year.

Greene had resisted the increased post-insurrection security measures at the Capitol, calling metal detectors there an act of “voter suppression.”

ABC News’ Aaron Katersky and William Gretsky contributed to this report.

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