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Legislative Branch spending proposal would harden security

Subcommittee’s request is $780.4 million above fiscal 2022 expenditures

The Capitol Police would get a $104.6 million funding boost under proposed Senate measure.
The Capitol Police would get a $104.6 million funding boost under proposed Senate measure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Democrats on Thursday proposed a $4.8 billion fiscal 2023 draft Legislative Branch appropriations bill, which like its House counterpart, would give big boosts to Capitol Police and the Architect of the Capitol to fortify the complex. 

The committee’s request is $780.4 million above fiscal 2022 spending, lower than the 20 percent jump requested in the $5.7 billion House bill. The Senate bill excludes House-only spending, and vice versa.

“This bill makes key investments in both resources and staffing to protect the Capitol complex from known and unknown threats,” said Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I.

The proposal comes as the campus continues to reckon with deep security and communication issues exposed during last year’s mob attack on Jan. 6. 

The beleaguered Capitol Police force, which has been struggling with low morale and staffing shortages, would get $707.1 million, an increase of $104.6 million from fiscal 2022. That sum is similar to the House proposal of $105.6 million in new funding. 

Extra money would go to hiring, benefits and training. Police Chief J. Thomas Manger told House appropriators in late March the department had 1,849 officers, about 300 short of what he said was needed.

The Architect of the Capitol would get $1.1 billion, an increase of $529.5 million over fiscal 2022. That’s less than the $576 million increase proposed by the House.

The money doled out to the AOC would include $51 million for a new Library of Congress storage facility, which has seen previous funding diverted to “cover the unanticipated costs incurred by the violence that occurred on January 6, 2021, at the Capitol, as well as impacts from the COVID–19 pandemic,” according to an explanatory report accompanying the bill. Senators also proposed using $60 million to support construction of north and south screening vestibules at the Capitol.

Advocates in recent months had urged senators to create a bipartisan office of diversity and inclusion similar to one in the House, with the hope of better tracking demographic data about the Senate’s workforce and recruiting more staffers of color. But appropriators stopped short of that on Thursday, instead proposing a working group that would further study those issues.

[Senate needs its own diversity and inclusion office, advocates say]

Lawmakers set aside $6.3 million for two new fellowships created this year, including one named after the late Sen. John McCain, the longtime lawmaker who was once held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. The McMain-Mansfield fellowship helps senators hire wounded veterans for two-year stints.

The bill includes a provision that would prevent an automatic cost-of-living increase for members of Congress. It also includes a rider that’s been stripped out in years past that would allow Congress to change course and override restrictions that bar members from hiring beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. 

The bill also would provide:

  • $786 million for the Government Accountability Office, $66.6 million more than fiscal 2022.
  • $574 million to the Library of Congress, $23 million more than fiscal 2022.
  • $132.6 million to the Congressional Research Service, $3.5 million more than fiscal 2022.
  • $64.6 million to the Congressional Budget Office, $3.7 million more than fiscal 2022.
  • $101 million to the Copyright Office, $2.6 million more than fiscal 2022.

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