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$1.9B Capitol security supplemental headed to House floor

House Democrats prepare to push measure through without GOP support; Senate backing also unclear

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., speaks during a news conference in the Capitol on April 15, 2021.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., speaks during a news conference in the Capitol on April 15, 2021. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats released a $1.9 billion emergency spending measure Friday that would pay for bills stemming from the Jan. 6 insurrection and enhance Capitol Hill security in the coming months.

The supplemental appropriations bill, expected on the House floor next week, might not have the Republican backing it needs to pass the Senate amid ongoing tension between Republicans and Democrats about the attack by pro-Trump rioters. 

In a statement, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro called it “imperative” to pass the measure quickly.

“This emergency supplemental appropriation addresses the direct costs of the insurrection and strengthens Capitol security for the future,” said DeLauro, D-Conn. “It is also long overdue recognition of the work of the Capitol Police, the sacrifices that they and their families have made, and the changes they need.”

The National Guard, which was activated on Jan. 6 and will remain around the Capitol through May 23 to assist U.S. Capitol Police, would receive $520.9 million to pay for costs associated with staging troops in and around the building.

The Capitol Police, which is receiving increased scrutiny and oversight after the attack, would receive $43.9 million. That includes $31.1 million for salaries to backfill overtime until the department can hire and train more officers, a process that will take years.

Officers in the department are overworked and exhausted due, in part, to staffing shortfalls. They have collectively worked almost $720,000 in overtime hours in fiscal 2020. The department, currently at 1,843 officers, has 233 officer vacancies. In his security review, Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russell L. Honoré recommended the force add 854 total positions.

The Intelligence Division, which was found to have serious shortcomings in the lead-up to the pro-Trump insurrection, would get $3.32 million for human and technical resources under the bill.

Officers who fought that day were woefully under-equipped, with many lacking helmets, gas masks and face shields. The bill would allocate $5.04 million for equipment and services. This includes $2.71 million for reimbursement for equipment since Jan. 6 and $1.33 million for gas masks, tactical vests and other gear.

Officers have experienced immeasurable trauma from the attack. Toward that end, $4.41 million would go to wellness and trauma support, including six new mental health counselors and wellness resilience specialists.

The legislation would rename the Capitol Police wellness program the Howard C. “Howie” Liebengood Center for Wellness after the officer who died by suicide days after the riot.

“The Department is grateful for the support and the focus on providing enhanced capabilities and resources for our workforce,” the Capitol Police said in a statement. “This support will directly help the Department move forward to meet our evolving mission.” 

The bill would also provide $21.5 million for the House sergeant-at-arms and $16.5 million for the Senate sergeant-at-arms “to respond to the attack on the United States Capitol Complex that occurred on January 6, 2021,” and would require the Senate SAA to submit a plan for allocation of those funds to Senate appropriators.

More than $15 million would be set aside for the Senate SAA’s preparation and response to coronavirus, but those funds would be subject to approval by both the Appropriations and Rules committees.

Architect of the Capitol

The proposal would provide $529.7 million for the Architect of the Capitol for the accelerated hardening of the Capitol’s physical security posture and upgrades to facilities to accommodate security screening.

Of the AOC’s funding, $250 million is slated for “future needs stemming from the ongoing security assessments” including potential installation of retractable or “pop-in” fencing around the Capitol complex. The funds could also be used for landscape architecture if significant changes like the addition of fencing or security sensors are added to the campus.

Upgrading windows and doors across the Capitol and office buildings would be funded at $162.7 million. Even five months later, some exterior windows at the Capitol are shattered in their frames, a reminder of the destruction and violence of the Jan. 6 attack.

The North and South doors of the Capitol, where some of the shattered glass remains, could see an overhaul with the addition of $100 million vestibules for screening visitors and staff entering the building. The finds are intended for the two main doors of the Capitol and design and construction of vestibules at the House and Senate office buildings.

Capitol security cameras, whose footage came to national attention during the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and is also being used to prosecute Jan. 6 rioters, will also get an overhaul. The bill would allocate $17 million to install new cameras across the campus and buildings.

The District of Columbia would receive $66.8 million to help pay for costs the city incurred during and after the insurrection as well as the costs of assisting in security for federal government buildings and employees.

The bill proposes funding for several other federal law enforcement agencies including the FBI; the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for helping secure the Capitol complex following the attack.

The package would provide $39.5 million to continue prosecuting the hundreds of people who broke into the Capitol that day. The bulk of that funding, $34 million, would go to U.S. attorneys with the rest split between the Justice Department’s criminal division, $3.8 million, and its national security division, $1.7 million.  

The package also would provide $157.5 million in funding to improve security for federal judges and court buildings, $7.6 million to help the National Park Service prepare for large-scale events on the National Mall and other areas under their jurisdiction, $6.8 million for the Secret Service to address needs “exposed” by the insurrection, and $5 million for the General Services Administration to assess the security of federal buildings, including child care facilities.

Outlook uncertain

It wasn’t immediately clear Friday if Senate Democrats, let alone Republicans in either chamber, will back the bill.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., has expressed frustration that an independent commission hadn’t convened sooner to investigate and recommend funding upgrades before appropriating more money.

House Democrats and Republicans struck a deal Friday on legislation to set up a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. That measure is also expected on the floor next week.

In a statement Friday, Leahy didn’t rule out backing the House measure, but said he needed time to review it and potentially recommend changes.

“I am committed to moving a bill in the Senate to address these important needs; it must be done,” Leahy said. “But in doing so we must make sure we are making smart investments in our security based on lessons learned. It is important to me that the Capitol, a potent symbol of our democracy, remain open and accessible to the public and does not feel like a militarized zone.”

Earlier in the week top Republicans said they weren’t sold on spending $2 billion for security measures.

And some GOP lawmakers have falsely claimed the rioters — who attacked police officers, vandalized the Capitol building, called for the hanging of then-Vice President Mike Pence and posted themselves in the act on social media — were more tourists than criminals.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed their statements during a press conference Thursday, saying that they went “beyond denial” and “fell into the range of sick.”

The California Democrat also said that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., sent her a letter requesting she hold the spending bill until the end of the year, a delay that she said wouldn’t happen.

Pelosi said she rebuffed efforts to add extraneous provisions to the bill, opting to keep it centered on the safety of the Capitol complex, members and staff.  

“There are those who want to put this, that and the other thing on there,” she said. “And we think it just has to be focused on its purpose, which is Jan. 6.”

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to consider parameters for floor debate on the supplemental and the separate bipartisan commission bill.

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