A new Republican congressman from Florida handed out an unusual welcome gift to colleagues in the House of Representatives: inert grenades with a letter inviting them to “come together.”
The congressman, Cory Mills, 42, who is a U.S. Army veteran, said in the letter that the inert items, stamped with a Republican elephant, were 40-millimeter grenades manufactured in Florida and developed during the Vietnam War. The smooth cylindrical gray and yellow shells are made for a Mk 19 grenade launcher.
“Let’s come together and get to work on behalf of our constituents,” he said.
A reporter for The Daily Mail posted a picture of a grenade and Mr. Mills’s letter on Twitter, where the gift drew mixed reviews from fellow House freshmen. Representative Mike Collins, a Republican from Georgia, said that he “loved” his and just needed a launcher, while Representative Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut who did not receive one, made a comparison to Representative George Santos, the Republican congressman from New York whose lies about his biography are under scrutiny.
“Not even George Santos could make this stuff up,” Mr. Himes said.
A spokesman for Mr. Mills said it was customary for new Republican members of the House to bring gifts from their home states and that Mr. Mills had paid for the inert grenades personally.
All security measures were followed in delivering the grenades to the offices of Mr. Mills’s House colleagues on Capitol Hill, the spokesman added.
A Divided Congress
The 118th Congress is underway, with Republicans controlling the House and Democrats holding the Senate.
- Matt Gaetz: The far-right congressman’s role in recent House melodrama has only entrenched his stature as a political arsonist. But House G.O.P. leaders say, begrudgingly, that he’s also now a lawmaker with new powers.
- An Act of Retribution: Speaker Kevin McCarthy ejected Representatives Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, making good on a longstanding threat to expel the California Democrats.
- Trump Allies Win Key Seats: Some of the former president’s most outspoken defenders will sit on the House’s main investigative committee, underscoring their high-profile roles in the new Republican majority.
- ‘Reid Machine’ Rolls On: Top aides to Harry Reid, the relentless former Senate majority leader who died in 2021, helped Democrats win crucial Senate seats and are now scattered through the party apparatus.
The official historian for the House of Representatives said that while the office did not track lawmakers’ gifts, “it is not uncommon for member offices to give away items from their districts like peanuts or candy.”
The grenades were the most recent theatrical defense of weaponry by a Republican member of Congress.
Under former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a policy was imposed after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, requiring that lawmakers be screened for weapons before entering the House chamber. Visitors to the Capitol are prohibited from carrying firearms, but federal law carves out an exception for lawmakers that some House Democrats have been pushing to eliminate since the mob attack.
Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado who objected to the policy, was kept from the House floor after she refused to allow the Capitol Police to check her bag. In 2020, another Republican from Colorado, Ken Buck, wielded an AR-15 in his Capitol office, daring President Biden to take it.
Metal detectors installed after the attack were removed this month, at the start of the 118th Congress, at the behest of the new Republican majority.
Neither the Capitol Police public information office nor the office of the House sergeant-at-arms responded to repeated requests for information on the delivery of the inert grenades.
Mr. Mills won the election for the district north of Orlando last year, flipping a seat that had been held by Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat and a member of the House select committee that investigated the mob attack on the Capitol.
In a statement this month, Mr. Mills, a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, encouraged fellow Republicans to “disavow woke ideologies plaguing our military and get back to our armed meritocracy.”
In one campaign ad, leading up to last year’s election, he compared mask mandates to the tyranny of the Taliban and appeared on Fox News to criticize the Defense Department for encouraging diversity and equity in the military.
Mr. Mills received Donald Trump’s endorsement after repeating his discredited claims of fraud in the 2020 general election.