The top operations and maintenance official of the United States Capitol told lawmakers on Wednesday that the costs of the Jan. 6 attack will exceed $30 million, as his office works to provide mental health services, increase security and repair historical statues and other art damaged in the riot.
“The events of Jan. 6 were difficult for the American people, and extremely hard for all of us on campus to witness,” J. Brett Blanton, the architect of the Capitol, testified as he and other top officials gave their first extensive look at the damage inflicted on the House’s fine art collection and the strain on congressional employees from the assault.
Speaking to the House Appropriations Committee, where lawmakers are considering an emergency bill to cover the costs of the most violent attack on the Capitol in two centuries, Mr. Blanton described how his staff sheltered congressional aides as “the crowd began crashing through windows and prying open doors.”
As staff members huddled inside, the inauguration platform they had been diligently assembling was wrecked: sound systems and photo equipment irreparably damaged or stolen, two lanterns designed and built by the eminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted in the late 19th century ripped from the ground, and blue paint tracked all over the stone balustrades and into the hallways. Inside, busts of former speakers of the House and a Chippewa statesman, a statue of Thomas Jefferson and paintings of James Madison and John Quincy Adams were coated in fire extinguisher and other chemicals, including yellow dye that could stain.
Outside the physical damage, the officials detailed a substantial increase in demand for mental health counseling, with an office that typically handles about 3,000 calls per year surging to more than 1,150 interactions with employees, managers and members of Congress in six weeks.
Lawmakers also pressed for details about the fencing, lined with razor wire, encircling the Capitol complex, and the preservation of artifacts from the attack, including shattered window panes that have already been carefully removed. After a security briefing, several senators called for the fencing to be eventually taken down.
While some of the prized pieces in the House collection were saved by curatorial workers — including a silver inkstand dating to the early 1800s, the oldest object in the House — a handful of statues, busts and paintings were damaged. Most of the items are in hallways near the House chamber, and were largely damaged by chemical sprays.
Far more difficult to ascertain is the psychological burden on the hundreds of Capitol Hill staff members, many of whom sheltered in place as the mob broke through doors and windows and ransacked the building.