(Update: Adds info about House suspending session)
Washington, Mar 3 (efe-epa).- The US House of Representatives on Wednesday suspended the legislative session it had scheduled for Thursday after authorities warned of a potential plan by a rightist militia group to mount another attack on Congress.
The lower house was scheduled to debate a police reform bill on Thursday, but the Democrats, who hold a majority in the chamber, moved that vote up to Wednesday evening, along with other business.
The House had been planning to conclude its work for the week on Thursday, and thus – with those sessions having been advanced into Wednesday – lawmakers will be able to leave Washington and return to their home states after the evening session concludes.
In making the decision, Democrats elected not to put themselves, their staffers or other congressional personnel at risk after Capitol Police warned of a potential attack on Congress.
In a statement released earlier in the day, the Capitol Police said that they had “obtained intelligence that shows a possible plot to breach the Capitol by an identified militia group on Thursday, March 4.”
That date is the one on which certain ultrarightist groups believe that former President Donald Trump will return to office.
The report or intelligence is being taken “seriously,” Capitol Police officials said.
“We have already made significant security upgrades to include establishing a physical structure and increasing manpower to ensure the protection of Congress, the public and our police officers,” the statement said.
“Our Department is working with our local, state, and federal partners to stop any threats to the Capitol. We are taking the intelligence seriously, the Capitol Police officials added.
The Senate, meanwhile, still has not announced any decision about its activities or work schedule on Thursday, when lawmakers in the upper chamber are scheduled to debate the $1.9 trillion economic rescue package being pushed by the White House.
According to CNN, information provided by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warn that chatter among extremist groups – such as the ultrarightist Three Percenters – about a potential plan to attack the Capitol on March 4 had increased.
The followers of the QAnon conspiracy movement believe that on March 4, Trump will once again take power, evidently basing that belief on the fact that from 1793 and 1933 US presidents were generally inaugurated on or around that date.
Specifically, hundreds of QAnon followers, members of ultrarightist groups and Trump supporters on Jan. 6 assaulted the Capitol as lawmakers from both the House of Representatives and Senate were meeting in a joint session to certify the Nov. 3, 2020, presidential election victory of Democrat Joe Biden.
As a result of that deadly attack, in which five people died, House Democrats impeached Trump for a second time, claiming that he had stirred up the insurrectionist mob to march on the Capitol, but the Senate acquitted him on Feb. 13 after he had already left office.
In recent days, Congress has held a series of sessions in which top security officials have offered their versions of the events they witnessed on Jan. 6.
Last week, acting Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman warned in one of those hearings of a potential plan by extremists to blow up the Capitol when Biden comes to Congress to deliver his first address before the two chambers.
“We know that members of the militia groups that were present on January 6th have stated their desires that they want to blow up the Capitol and kill as many members (of Congress) as possible with a direct nexus to the State of the Union (address),” Pittman said before Congress, although she added that the date for Biden’s speech has not yet been set.
“So based on that information, we think that it’s prudent that Capitol Police maintain its enhanced and robust security posture until we address those vulnerabilities going forward,” she added.
According to US media outlets, Biden is expected to deliver his speech – similar to a State of the Union address although he has not yet been in office for a year and thus will not report on the past year’s activities – to explain his administration’s plans and discuss its achievements during the past few weeks before a joint session of Congress, after which the legislature will approve a new pandemic economic rescue plan.