WASHINGTON – The head of the House Appropriations Committee has released a $1.9 billion spending proposal to reimburse authorities who responded to the Capitol riot Jan. 6 and to beef up security against future attacks.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., introduced the bill with an eye toward recommendations from the task force headed by retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré. But the proposal covers emergency spending rather than permanent staffing increases such as for Capitol Police.
"This emergency supplemental appropriation addresses the direct costs of the insurrection and strengthens Capitol security for the future," DeLauro said in a statement Friday. “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."
For comparison, the entire spending bill for the current year for the legislative branch, which includes Capitol Police and security, totaled about $4.2 billion.
A House vote on the legislation could come as early as Wednesday, after the House Rules Committee considers the rules for floor debate Tuesday. A vote is also expected Wednesday on setting up a bipartisan commission to investigate what happened Jan. 6, similar to the commission that reviewed the terrorist hijackings Sept. 11, 2001.
The Honoré task force urged a dramatic increase in Capitol Police staffing, a permanent National Guard presence nearby and a retractable fence for deployment in emergencies. But as lawmakers scrutinize security in hearings, proposals dealing with the National Guard and fencing have been contentious.
The insurrection Jan. 6 temporarily halted the counting of Electoral College votes that confirmed President Joe Biden beat former President Donald Trump. Rioters overwhelmed police barricades and swarmed through the Capitol, vandalizing offices. Five people died, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died the day after the attack from strokes, and 140 officers were injured.
DeLauro’s proposal includes funding to:
•Reimburse the National Guard $520.9 million and District of Columbia $66.8 million for their costs helping secure the Capitol. The bill would also create a quick reaction force for emergencies.
•Bolster Capitol Police with $43.9 million more for overtime pay, retention bonuses and equipment replacement. The funding includes $3.3 million for the intelligence division, which watchdogs said needed more staff and training. Capitol Police would receive $8.6 million for body cameras, which D.C. metro police had during the attack.
•Prosecute suspects in the riot with an additional $39.5 million for U.S. attorneys and the Justice Department. More than 430 suspects have been charged as the FBI continues to investigate.
•Redesign the Capitol landscape and potentially install retractable fencing for $250 million. Harden windows and doors around the Capitol and surrounding office buildings for $162.7 million. Create new security vestibules at the North and South doors to the Capitol. for $100 million.
•Improve security for lawmakers with $21.5 million and federal judges with $157.5 million.
“None of us can, or should, forget the events of January 6th and the attempted ransacking of representative democracy,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who heads the subcommittee that oversees spending for the Capitol. “Institutional and cultural reforms are needed to maintain as safe and open a campus as possible.”
The proposal is an emergency spending bill that would be considered in addition to routine annual bills that provide funding for Capitol Police and the National Guard.
Honoré’s 15-page report recommended hiring 854 more Capitol Police officers for the force of about 2,000 to reduce staggering overtime costs while bolstering the agency's intelligence analysis functions.
The inspector general for U.S. Capitol Police told lawmakers that pipe bombs planted at political party headquarters diverted officers from the Jan. 6 riot, and he repeated a call for more staffing as threats against lawmakers have "exploded."
Another recommendation was to create a quick reaction force of the National Guard, to remain permanently for faster response to emergencies like the riot Jan. 6. More than 2,200 troops remain stationed at the Capitol through May 23, but some lawmakers have questioned whether a permanent deployment is necessary.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: House chairman proposes emergency $1.9 billion for Capitol security