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Citing converging crises, governance groups push funding boost for Legislative Branch

Request for 10 percent increase cites pandemic, attack on Capitol

Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., received a letter from several groups asking for more Legislative Branch funding.
Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., right, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., received a letter from several groups asking for more Legislative Branch funding. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan roster of good governance groups is asking congressional appropriators to increase funding for the Legislative Branch by an additional 10 percent or $530.9 million.

On Tuesday, Demand Progress, the Lincoln Network, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington along with many other groups wrote to the top lawmakers on the appropriations committees asking them “to increase the share of discretionary funding available for the Legislative branch both to address the historically diminished resources available to the Legislative branch and to meet the challenges facing Congress in our current time of crisis.”

The groups are asking House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and ranking member Kay Granger, R-Texas, and Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking member Richard C. Shelby to increase initial spending allocations, known as 302(b)s.

“We firmly believe that dedicating resources to build a stronger, more capable Congress is of key importance to our democracy and is necessary for it to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities,” the groups wrote. “Therefore, we urge you to increase the 302(b) allocation for the legislative branch by 10 percent as you determine spending levels for FY 2022.”

The fiscal 2021 omnibus spending bill included $5.3 billion in total base discretionary funding for the Legislative Branch. That bill allocated around $515.5 million to the Capitol Police, an increase of roughly $51.2 million.

The letter says that “the vast majority of new funding made available for Congress have been allocated for the U.S. Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol, leaving virtually unchanged the funding available for policymaking and support staff even as their duties have increased geometrically.”

The letter notes that the groups appreciate the fiscal year 2021 bill’s increase in 302(b) allocations, but says that “the effects of the longstanding defunding of the First Branch have been augmented by significantly increased responsibilities and tempo of work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises.”

A similar letter was sent in June regarding the 2021 fiscal year bill.

Chris Cioffi contributed to this report.

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