The Capitol Police are failing to make necessary changes in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, despite a budget that rivals many big-city departments, House Republicans asserted Tuesday.
Officers were undertrained and unprepared and intelligence was not properly communicated throughout the department, resulting in members being unprotected when supporters of then-President Donald Trump breached the Capitol, House Administration Committee members told Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger at a hearing.
“One of the reasons it’s important that we look back is so we can identify where the failures were and move forward,” said Rep. Barry Loudermilk, chairman of the House Administration Oversight Subcommittee. “Our concern is there has been a lack of looking back by previous leadership of Capitol Police.”
Committee Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., in his introductory remarks, said he hoped to “depoliticize Capitol security” and bring more transparency to the department. He also said he didn’t feel the department was making “necessary changes with speed or efficiency.”
Manger noted that the force has implemented 89 of 103 recommendations to strengthen the department made by the Capitol Police’s inspector general after the attack.
Loudermilk and Steil have focused on the preparedness of the Capitol Police before the Jan.6 attack, rather than on Trump’s role in inciting it — much like a December report, led by now Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., that avoided any implication of the former president and argued that Democratic leaders and police leadership left the Capitol vulnerable.
That approach rankled ranking member Joseph D. Morelle, D-N.Y.
“I don’t think all the intelligence in the world would’ve prepared anyone for the president of the United States being in the Ellipse on the day that we were about to certify the Electoral College and telling the crowd of supporters, some of whom were armed, that they should march to the Capitol and he would be with them,” Morelle said.
The New York Democrat also criticized Republican colleagues for saying they were depoliticizing the Capitol Police, yet had shared video from the attack with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Manger waffled when asked whether he was consulted before the footage was released, eventually telling Morelle that he read about the shared security clips by “reading about it in the paper.”
Loudermilk and Steil, however, clarified that a clip initially deemed “sensitive” was cleared by Capitol Police before it was shared with Carlson, and that House Democrats had previously released the same footage during Trump’s impeachment without consulting the force. Manger said he believed Loudermilk and Steil were correct.
The hearing was held on the same day that House Appropriations Republicans unveiled a fiscal 2024 budget proposal that would provide the Capitol Police with a $780.9 million budget, $46.3 million more than enacted fiscal 2023 levels, despite a 2.2 percent topline cut to the overall Legislative Branch bill.
The funding would be the latest in a series of boosts to the force since the Jan. 6 attack; Manger has argued these are necessary to combat staffing issues, low morale and an increasingly hostile political climate in which threats against members have increased significantly.
“I fully recognize the department’s budget is significant. But equally significant are the department’s growing responsibilities,” Manger told the committee.
Michael Macagnone contributed to this report.