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House Jan. 6 panel pushes for Capitol Police changes, funding

Final report joined a series of calls from both chambers and both parties for more attention to preparedness for the force

U.S. Capitol Police officers salute during a ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the “United States Capitol Police, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police and the heroes of January 6th,” in the Capitol Rotunda on Dec. 6.
U.S. Capitol Police officers salute during a ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the “United States Capitol Police, the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police and the heroes of January 6th,” in the Capitol Rotunda on Dec. 6. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The final report from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol added to bipartisan calls for changes to the Capitol Police that protects the building and members of Congress.

The select committee report, which mainly focused on former President Donald Trump’s monthslong effort to overturn his loss in the 2020 election, also detailed a series of decisions by police officials that left line officers without equipment and delayed the National Guard’s deployment in response to the attack on the joint session of Congress.

Members of the committee called for additional oversight of the police department “as it improves its planning, training, equipping, and intelligence processes and practices its critical incident response protocols, both internally and with law enforcement partners.” The committee suggested hearings with testimony from the Capitol Police Board.

And the report also recommended “full funding for critical security measures” and noted that the committee had “shared concerns about two specific areas of security” with the House Administration Committee.

The chair of that committee in the current Congress, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., also sat on the Jan. 6 panel. The House Administration Committee did not immediately respond Friday to a request for more information.

The recommendations in Thursday’s report followed more than two years of increased attention and funding for the Capitol Police in the wake of the attack.

Potential agreement

With Republicans set to take over the House next month, the push for increased oversight of the Capitol Police department may be one of the select committee’s few recommendations with bipartisan support.

Appropriators included $734.6 million for the agency in a fiscal 2023 omnibus funding bill that cleared the House on Friday afternoon — a more than 20 percent increase. That would allow the department to hire up to 2,126 officers and 567 civilians.

That’s separate from a roughly $1 billion security supplemental Congress passed last year in response to the attack that included $300 million for increased security measures, $71 million to cover police overtime and $35 million for mutual aid agreements with other law enforcement agencies.

The select committee report joined a series of calls from both chambers for changes to the United States Capitol Police after the attack. Last year, a joint, bipartisan report from the Senate Rules Committee and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee found numerous intelligence failures at the agency and called for changes to departmental structure that went beyond additional training.

On Wednesday, a group of five House Republicans, who were initially selected for the select committee but withdrawn by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, issued their own report that focused on security preparations in advance of the attack.

“The slow response to the violence at the Capitol represents a multi-jurisdictional security breakdown. But the entity that is singularly tasked with protecting the Capitol complex failed to do just that on January 6, 2021,” the Republican report stated.

The five Republican authors of the report recommended a series of broad changes to the Capitol Police Board beyond what the bipartisan committee called for, including expanding the board and compelling it to disclose meeting minutes to oversight panels.

Other changes

The current Capitol Police Chief, J. Thomas Manger, acknowledged at a Senate Rules Committee hearing Monday that the department before the attack had “systemic deficiencies” in intelligence gathering and security planning, which he has tried to fix.

“These front-burner priorities have largely been remediated,” Manger said.

Manger was promoted to his role last July after the resignation of Chief Steven A. Sund, who served during the attack, and then a six-month stint from acting Chief Yogananda Pittman.

The Senate report last year pointed to the U.S. Capitol Police Inspector General’s more than 50 recommendations for changes to the agency, ranging from policy changes for security planning to increased training for security at large events.

They included changes to the Capitol Police Chief’s authority, allowing them to request National Guard assistance unilaterally, and set specific policies for coordination of Police Board members.

Outside organizations like the Project on Government Oversight have highlighted the alleged intelligence failures before the attack that factored into preparations for the attack. In a report issued in June, POGO said many of the senior officials who were in intelligence roles prior to Jan. 6 are still at the department.

At the Rules Committee hearing Monday, Manger said the department has made specific changes to planning for major events, including hiring a former Secret Service official for security planning and running drills with the National Guard.

The Jan. 6 panel, in its final report Thursday, also recommended that Congress designate the joint session to count electoral votes on Jan. 6 as a security event that requires specific security measures and significant advanced planning and preparation, as is done for the inauguration and State of the Union.

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