FIRST ON FOX: The top Republicans on the House and Senate Homeland Security Committees are urging Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to develop plans to deter the "increasing number of assaults" targeting federal law enforcement officers and government facilities in the U.S., Fox News has learned.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., the ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, wrote to Mayorkas Wednesday to express their concerns.
"Any violent attack on our nation's law enforcement, however, is an attack on the rule of law and directly impacts the safety and security of all Americans," they wrote.
Portman and Katko cited the "continued violence at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse and the April 10, 2021, fire-related incident at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Portland, Oregon," calling them "just the latest concrete examples of this threat."
Over the weekend, protests in Portland developed into a riot when about 100 people engaged in "autonomous demonstrations" near an ICE facility. Police made at least six arrests, including one individual who allegedly was menacing officers with a knife.
Law enforcement officials in Portland said "several dozen people decided to damage and destroy multiple businesses in our downtown area resulting in a riot," and said the situation became "extremely dangerous when a man brandished a knife at officers when officers were simply doing their job."
"The officers appear to have exercised restraint and professionalism and safely apprehended this suspect," Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement. "I am proud of all of our employees who worked to minimize further damage and arrest some of the criminals involved."
Portman and Katko went on to outline DHS's "statutory authority and obligation" to "protect the buildings, grounds and property that are owned, occupied or secured by the federal government … and the persons on the property."
The Republicans added that the mission of DHS’s Federal Protective Service "is to provide security to more than 9,500 federal facilities and roughly 1,300 law enforcement officers nationwide."
They added that DHS has the legal authority to "designate and deploy law enforcement officers and agents from DHS components in order to help FPS protect federal facilities."
The Republicans maintained the importance of the First Amendment right, calling it "one of the foundations of American democracy," but said violent attacks on law enforcement are an "attack on the rule of law" and impact homeland security.
"Given the likelihood of further attempted attacks on federal law enforcement officers and government facilities, we kindly request your answers to the following questions regarding the Department’s plans for deterring and responding to these threats," they wrote.
Portman and Katko requested Mayorkas provide specific steps that DHS is taking to assess the potential for attacks, and the steps they are taking to "deter violent attacks" against government facilities and federal law enforcement officers.
When asked for a response to Katko and Portman's letter, a DHS spokesperson told Fox News that the agency responds to congressional correspondence through official channels.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.