Capitol Hill braces for security threat around March 4 conspiracy theory

WASHINGTON – The House left town early, the Senate continued to debate a $1.9 trillion bill for coronavirus relief and U.S. Capitol Police braced for a potential security threat Thursday as a possible follow-up to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The House moved up its voting on a measure to overhaul policing to late Wednesday, after Capitol police alerted to a potential security threat. The police released a statement warning of a “possible plot to breach the Capitol by an unidentified militia group.” Downtown businesses have warned tenants about potential protests.

March 4 has been highlighted by the debunked QAnon conspiracy theory as an inauguration day for former President Donald Trump to return to office. March 4 was the date presidents were inaugurated until the 20th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in the 1930s.

“The USCP is steadfast in ensuring that an incident of this nature will never occur again, especially with the realization that the possibility of a similar incident occurring in the current environment is a very real and present danger,” acting Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman told lawmakers Wednesday.

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Tuesday that the problem of domestic terrorism has been metastasizing, and “it’s not going away any time soon.”

An eight-foot tall steel fence topped with concertina razor wire circles the U.S. Capitol January 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images)

The threat comes nearly two months after U.S. Capitol riot by Trump supporters, which left five people dead. Rioters attacked police officers and threatened the lives of former Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on the day Congress counted Electoral College votes for the 2020 presidential election.

QAnon falsely alleges the existence of a satanic “deep state” apparatus that supports a child sex trafficking ring. Its followers played prominent roles in the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, allegedly incited by Trump.

Related: What is QAnon?

The second-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said it was understandable that people were concerned about another attack. But he said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hadn’t reached the same conclusion as the House about ending debate early for the week.

The Senate could vote as early as noon on a motion to begin formal debate on the COVID-19 relief legislation, although no precise timing has been set yet. The debate is expected to last for days because Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has threatened to require a 10-hour reading of the bill and unlimited amendments could be offered.

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