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House committee pushes for Secret Service protection for 2020 Democrats

Protesters rush stage during Biden speech
Protesters rush the stage during Biden's Super Tuesday speech 00:32

Washington — The House Homeland Security Committee has asked congressional leaders and the Department Homeland Security (DHS) to determine whether 2020 presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders should have Secret Service protection, a request that comes after two protesters stormed the stage while Biden was speaking on Super Tuesday.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat from Mississippi, sent a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and the four congressional leaders — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — urging them to "immediately undertake the consultation process necessary to determine whether any Democratic candidates for President should be afforded protection" by the Secret Service.

Thompson said Biden and Sanders appear to satisfy several factors used to determine whether to authorize a Secret Service detail for a major presidential candidate.

"Taking into consideration the remaining candidates' large campaign operations, high polling averages, as well as physical threats to their safety — all factors contemplated by the guidelines — I urge you to immediately initiate the consultation process to determine whether to provide USSS protection to certain major Democratic presidential candidates," Thompson wrote. DHS ultimately decides whether or not to approve protection details.

Congressman Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana and co-chair of Biden's campaign, told reporters earlier Wednesday the panel's Democratic majority made its request for Secret Service protection.

In addition to Biden and Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren also remains in the presidential race.

Thompson's letter comes after demonstrators protesting the dairy industry jumped on stage while Biden was giving remarks in Los Angeles celebrating his sweep victories in Super Tuesday's races.

One woman who made it on stage was removed by security. A second protester was tackled and yanked off the stage by Symone Sanders, a senior campaign adviser. Jill Biden, the former vice president's wife, also stepped in to stop the woman, as did at least four members of his communications team.

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Holds Super Tuesday Night Campaign Event In Los Angeles
A protester charges the stage holding a sign that reads "Let Dairy Die," as former Vice President Joe Biden speaks on March 3, 2020, in Los Angeles. Mario Tama/Getty Images

Tuesday night marked the second time Jill Biden has blocked a protester from getting near her husband. In New Hampshire just before its February primary, she jumped from her seat and ushered a protester away from Biden as he delivered remarks.

When asked about the interaction, Jill Biden quipped, "I'm a good Philly girl."

Anti-dairy protesters have also interrupted other candidate events where they were likewise able to make it on stage.

During a speech in Nevada last month, a woman grabbed the microphone from Sanders and called on him to "stop propping up the dairy industry." Several other women, at least one of them topless, then marched on stage holding signs.

The anti-dairy demonstrators also rushed on stage during an event with Warren in Los Angeles on Monday and shouted while she remained behind the lectern smiling.

None of the presidential candidates currently have a Secret Service detail.

Biden had Secret Service protection while he was vice president, though his time under the agency's watch ended six months after he left office, as required by the Former Vice President Protection Act of 2008.

He now travels regularly with one private bodyguard, though his events rarely have additional security measures unless the venue provides screening.

Arden Farhi contributed reporting.

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