An increase in threats to U.S. lawmakers over the past two years has extended to their family members, according to federal law enforcement, and a lack of federal protections for family members has frustrated some members of Congress.
The security detail for lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, does not protect their family members, including spouses, when members of Congress are not with them, according to multiple sources. Some lawmakers have been given extra security in their home districts from local law enforcement and private contractors.
After the attack on Pelosi’s husband, Paul Pelosi, GOP representative Adam Kinzinger told CNN that the threats against his own family included one in which he killed his young child. But when he asked the US Capitol Police for extra security, they essentially told him to “stand in line,” Kinzinger said.
Like other lawmakers, Kinzinger’s security detail doesn’t protect his family when he’s not with them, and the lack of help from the Capitol Police has meant that his campaign should foot the bill for additional security.
Calls for violence against lawmakers online and elsewhere refer to both elected officials and their families, according to sources familiar with the threat environment who told CNN that law enforcement agencies are struggling to address those threats in the wake of Jan. 6. 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
In the months since the January 6 uprising, the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies have worked to improve protections for members of Congress when they are in Washington DC and traveling back to their home districts.
Capitol Police declined to comment when asked Friday about safety for the families of lawmakers.
A senior staff member on Capitol Hill tells CNN that the Capitol Police Department is now reviewing additional security options to protect families from congressional leadership.
Federal law enforcement agencies have consistently warned of the increasing threat of politically motivated violence after Jan. 6, raising specific concerns about the likelihood that online calls to violence will result in actual attacks.
According to the most recent statistics, in 2021 the Capitol Police Department identified approximately 9,600 threats against the people and places the department is tasked with protecting. It is not clear how many threats have been made against family members.
Several lawmakers have sought additional protection from the US Capitol Police after receiving threats to their families, but the agency largely lacks the resources and training to comply with those requests, according to a source familiar with the case.