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Senate May Not Be Done With Leg. Branch Totals

Bill Passes, but Campbell Predicts Police Budget Could Get Boost in Conference

The Senate approved its $2.5 billion version of the legislative branch spending bill Tuesday, but Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) suggested additional funds may be sought for security-related operations during a conference with House appropriators.

The legislation, which passed on a 94-2 vote, includes $227 million for the Capitol Police Department, an increase of $7 million over fiscal 2004 levels. An additional $13 million in “reprogrammed funds” from previous allocations brings the department’s fiscal 2005 budget to $240 million.

But the committee settled on those figures before the law enforcement agency increased security across the Capitol campus in early August following a Homeland Security Department warning citing potential terrorist threats to financial institutions in Washington, D.C., New York and New Jersey.

Those security measures, including more than a dozen new traffic checkpoints, “may require us to find additional funds for the Capitol Police when we meet,” said Campbell, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch.

Estimates provided by Capitol Police to the House Appropriations Committee put costs for the new operations at approximately $40 million, if they continue through the presidential inauguration in mid-January.

To meet that total, the agency will require $28.6 million over its fiscal 2004 budget.

“That’s an open issue that we’ll address in conference, if need be,” said House Appropriations spokesman John Scofield.

In its version of the bill, the House allocated $232 million to the Capitol Police, which had sought a $292 million budget.

That same allocation also will likely produce one of the few conflicts expected in the pending House-Senate conference committee. The House has voted to eliminate the department’s fledgling mounted horse unit, created in the fiscal 2004 bill with strong backing from Campbell, who is retiring at the end of the 108th Congress.

In its version of the bill, the Senate has set aside funds for the purchase of prefabricated stables and support sheds for the mounted unit. Those facilities would be located in D.C. Village, a complex made up of various government agencies located south of Anacostia near the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

In discussing the spending bill in its entirety on the Senate floor Tuesday, Campbell noted the legislation is a “very tight allocation” but asserted that it would not force staff cuts at any of the legislative branch agencies.

The spending bill, which by tradition does not include House operations funds — totaling about $1 million for fiscal 2005 — includes an increase of $8 million, less than 0.5 percent over the current fiscal year.

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