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Don't Fence the Capitol In or Out

Jamie Stiehm on

WASHINGTON -- Two women are deciding paths of our destiny, the acting Capitol police chief and the Senate parliamentarian. You and I -- and the lamppost -- don't know them.

One unknown gave us something deeply wrong; the other took away something deeply right. Strange for strangers to have such untold, unelected power in a democracy, while we pick up pieces from shambles.

Happy Women's History Month, everybody.

We've never seen anything like the massive fence imprisoning the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot -- a terrible message for the temple of democracy. Razor wire and soldier sharpshooters all around the dome for a country mile. The landscape looks like martial law. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., told me, "I wish they'd tear the thing down." It's former President Donald Trump's parting gift, his writing on our National Mall. He sent legions of white supremacists marching to "fight like hell."

But the military overkill is due to the acting Capitol police chief, Yogananda Pittman. Her boss, Steven Sund, got fired on Jan. 7. She's a scaremonger but has not taken responsibility for her police force losing control of the Capitol to the armed mob.

I was there that day, in the siege. The mob was better organized. There were heartbreaking police casualties and heroics. But the chief leaders were unprepared, despite an FBI warning.

 

Meanwhile, something happened inside the dome contrary to the currents of most lawmakers and citizens.

The Senate parliamentarian threw out raising the minimum wage to $15 in the pending American Rescue Plan. Just like that. One woman, one vote.

This raise for working Americans, meant to lift families out of poverty, was part of the COVID-19 stimulus package passed by the House. Now its heart languishes on a deathbed in the Senate.

Meet Elizabeth MacDonough, the obscure parliamentarian. Who knew she was the keeper of the keys? The mob ransacked her book-lined Capitol office, where she dwells, quiet as a mouse.

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