The House narrowly passed a Democrat-led $1.9 billion spending bill Thursday aimed at ramping up security at the Capitol in response to the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol by a 213-212 vote.
A group of progressive Democrats nearly derailed the bill’s passage, expressing concerns about police accountability. But Democratic leadership ultimately struck a deal on the floor, with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Rashida Talib (Mich,) and Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) voting present instead of no on the measure.
Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.) and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) opted to vote against the bill.
Proponents of the measure argued that the breach of the Capitol — when a group of pro-Trump rioters stormed the building in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the election — and the deadly attack on Capitol Police on April 2, when a knife-wielding man drove his car into a security barricade killing an officer and injuring another demonstrates the need for the supplemental funding.
“Like many of us in the Capitol community, I’m still shaken by the violence and terror that day and the tragedies in its aftermath. The death of Officer Brian Sicknick, the Good Friday attack that killed officer Billy Evans, and the emotional trauma that led to the death of officers Howard Liebengood and Jeffrey Smith by suicide,” House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said on the floor ahead of the vote.
“Congress owes it to every single person who works in or visits the United States Capitol to provide funding to recover, rebuild, and keep all who serve in the legislative branch safe, healthy, and secure.”
DeLauro introduced the bill on Friday, which would allocate $520.9 million toward the National Guard; $43.9 million toward the Capitol Police which would be used for overtime, hazard pay, retention bonuses, trauma support, equipment and intelligence resources.
The Architect of the Capitol would receive a $529.7 million budget, with $250 million directed at a redesign of the Capitol grounds to build retractable fencing and security sensors, $162.7 million for door and window hardening and $100 million for security screening vestibules.
While Democrats overwhelmingly supported the measure, Republicans expressed concerns about a number of provisions in the bill, including language that would create a rapid response force within the D.C. National Guard which some argue would “militarize” security of the complex and noted that the House did not hold any hearings on the matter.
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) — the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, which is tasked with overseeing the security of the Capitol complex — took aim at members across the aisle for abandoning bipartisan negotiations, arguing a number of the provisions in the bill are unvetted and warrant a committee hearing.
“I have some serious concerns about this being the most efficient and effective way to protect the Capitol in an emergency. The bill also requires body cameras for each Capitol police officer with the exception of officers who are on protective detail for leadership and other members. My committee has not reviewed this or why an exception was made for certain officers. Additionally, this bill could allow members to use taxpayer dollars to make upgrades to their homes for security purposes,” he said during floor debate.
“As someone who’s been shot at on a ball field and received many threats from constituents and others over the years, I understand the need for protection, and there have already been changes to help increase safety. But I have a feeling some of our constituents wouldn’t be happy with members of congress being able to use tax dollars to make improvements that could increase the value of their homes in the name of security.”
The bill is expected to be renegotiated in the upper chamber, with few Senate Republicans expected to support the measure in its current form.
Its passage comes one day after the House passed legislation to establish a “9/11-style” commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, which appears to be dead on arrival in the upper chamber due to a lack of Republican support.
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