Senate Speaker Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) – who first identified the funding gap in June – issued another warning on Friday afternoon. The Vermont Democrat said Capitol Police salaries will run out next month and the National Guard will have to cut training in the absence of Congressional action.
This moment marks the latest episode of uncertainty for the Capitol Police, which saw dozens of officers leave or retire after the Jan.6 pro-Trump insurgency that injured dozens of respondents and played a role in someone’s death. A second officer was killed in an unrelated car attack in April. In a further complication, the Capitol begins to tear down its interior security fences, establishing a state of normalcy but also vulnerability to a building that prides itself on being open to the public.
The growing bipartisan urgency in the Senate to disburse emergency money to meet the financial needs of both forces comes after the House passed a $ 1.9 billion emergency spending bill in May . The measure, which was blocked in the Senate amid GOP objections to some provisions, would set aside $ 43.9 million for Capitol Police, in addition to $ 520.9 million to cover salaries and costs. unforeseen operations of the National Guard.
“The House has taken steps to avoid this choice by passing the emergency security supplement to respond to January 6,” said House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) And Rep. Tim Ryan. (D-Ohio), who oversees spending on the Capitol. “The solution lies in the Senate. It’s time for the Senate to come to the table, honor the sacrifice of the Capitol Police, and swiftly pass the Emergency Supplement. “
Senate Republicans have proposed a smaller bill of around $ 632 million, although it may have an easier time attracting GOP support than the House bill. GOP lawmakers would provide roughly the same amount of money for National Guard and Capitol Police salaries, while allocating significantly less funding to the Capitol Architect.
Unlike the House Democrats, the Senate Republicans Bill would not provide any funds for the Library of Congress, the National Park Service, or the US Secret Service.
Homeowners have so far offered $ 603.9 million for the Capitol Police, a 17% budget increase from current levels, in their annual expense bills. But any money from a government funding deal will arrive far too late, with federal liquidity set to dry up by midnight on September 30, and Congress likely won’t act in advance before the deadline.
The Capitol Police funding crisis will come during an extremely busy July and August period, which includes Democrats’ plan to pass a budget resolution putting billions in new spending in place as well as reviewing possible bipartite infrastructure bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.) on Friday warned of long nights, weekends and possible work during the scheduled August break.
But it would be hard to imagine Congress failing and leaving the Capitol Police underfunded after such a brutal year. The unit has already “exceeded scheduled overtime due to activities” related to the Jan. 6 insurgency, Leahy said Friday.
“We haven’t budgeted for an insurgency, and without action the Capitol Police will not pay for the overtime they incurred, without proper equipment and sufficient mental health services to deal with the continuing trauma of this day. “, he mentioned. “The National Guard, which has flocked to Capitol Hill from all states, may now have to cut the training it needs to prepare for overseas deployments or a response at home.”
Shelby is backing the legislation to meet the immediate needs of the police and National Guard as lawmakers continue to assess cash for other security concerns, an aide said.
In a statement, Capitol Police said they were doing what they could to keep building operations and security “within our funding levels.” Supporting our workforce while accomplishing our mission remains a high priority.
Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.