Infuriated Speaker Pelosi demands FAA accountability over miscommunication that sparked evacuation of Capitol complex

The U.S. Capitol complex in Washington D.C. was temporarily evacuated in a panic Wednesday night over fears of an unidentified aircraft flying in the area, an incident that was later revealed to be little more than a mistaken miscommunication between various government entities.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is furious over the “outrageous and inexcusable” occurrence that she likened to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021 in terms of the “trauma” still purportedly being suffered by staffers and members of Congress, Fox News reported.

She is now blaming the Federal Aviation Administration for what happened and has demanded immediate answers to address that agency’s apparent failure to issue a proper notification to relevant parties, such as the U.S. Capitol Police.

Whoops! Nevermind …

CBS News reported that Capitol Police sent out an alert around 6:30 pm Wednesday that urged an evacuation as it was “tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat to the Capitol Complex.”

All was well just 20 minutes later, though, and the evacuation was ended after it was announced that the “probable threat” was gone, though no explanation of exactly what that threat was was provided in the follow-up alert.

As it turned out, the supposedly threatening aircraft that sparked the panicked evacuation was nothing more than a single-engine Cessna plane carrying the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team as those acrobatic parachutists prepared to descend into Nationals Park on Military Appreciation Day to start the Washington Nationals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game.

The Army was “aware of the issues that occurred during the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute team’s demonstration at the Washington Nationals baseball game,” a spokesperson said in a statement, according to CBS News. “We are reviewing all aspects of the event to ensure all procedures were followed appropriately to coordinate both the flight and the parachute demonstration.”

The FAA “takes its role in protecting the national airspace seriously and will conduct a thorough and expeditious review of the events this evening and share updates,” the agency said in a statement. “We know our actions affect others, especially in our nation’s capital region, and we must communicate early and often with our law enforcement partners.”

Pelosi demands heads roll at the FAA

Those explanations were not enough for Speaker Pelosi, who issued a statement of her own Wednesday night that praised the Capitol Police and excoriated the FAA over the miscommunication about the parachute team’s plane.

“The Federal Aviation Administration’s apparent failure to notify Capitol Police of the pre-planned flyover Nationals Stadium is outrageous and inexcusable,” Pelosi said. “The unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th.”

“Congress looks forward to reviewing the results of a thorough after-action review that determines what precisely went wrong today and who at the Federal Aviation Administration will be held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake,” she added.

To be sure, it probably was a bit nerve-wracking for those individuals at the Capitol who were hastily evacuated in a panic due to a lack of communication between federal agencies, but calling for heads to roll at the FAA may be a bit of an overreaction and comparisons of this mixup to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot is beyond absurd and simply uncalled for.

Latest News