WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday narrowly passed a $1.9 billion emergency spending measure to boost security for the U.S. Capitol complex and other government agencies that responded to the Jan. 6 attack on the building.
In an effort to improve the response to a future incident, the bill would allocate $18 million to provide body cameras to U.S. Capitol Police officers who interact with the general public, buy riot control equipment and strengthen intelligence and training.
The bill passed the House, 213-212, with three Democrats voting "present" and three opposing the bill.
The three Democrats who voted against the bill were Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Cori Bush of Missouri and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. The three Democrats who voted present were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Jamaal Bowman of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. They are all members of the so-called squad, a group of the most liberal lawmakers in the House.
Opposition to the bill largely stemmed from a provision allocating more funds to the police — which would run contrary to calls on the left to "defund" the police.
“There are some things about the bill that I support, like making sure our custodial staff and our cleaners have the resources they need to respond and deal with this trauma. But there are other parts of it that I don't support, like adding more funding to police budgets,” Bowman said. “So that's why I decided to vote present.”
No Republicans supported the bill.
Under the bill, the architect of the Capitol would receive about $529 million to install new cameras around the Capitol and surrounding office buildings, for new screening vestibules and to upgrade accessible windows and doors to these buildings.
The House sergeant-at-arms would receive about $21 million to enhance security and threat assessments for members of Congress, for coordination of security for lawmakers when they travel and for the installation of cameras in members’ district offices back home.
“This bill is not about politics. It's not about settling scores. It's about ensuring that every person who comes onto the Capitol grounds is safe and is protected,” Rep. Rose DeLauro, D-Conn., chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, said on the House floor Thursday.
“The funding is not optional,” said DeLauro, who sponsored the measure. “It's about protecting the seat of our democracy, and the men and the women of the young people who work here, and serve.”
The legislation would also provide more funding to Capitol Police to help backfill overtime pay for the agency until it can hire, train and deploy more officers, bolster resources for its intelligence division, pay for new mental health counselors and reimburse the cost for equipment and services used in the wake of the attack.
It would also retroactively allocate more than $520 million to the National Guard for the deployment of its troops to protect the Capitol from Jan. 6 to May 23 and would reimburse more than $66 million to the District of Columbia for its response to the riot.
The bill would also reimburse various agencies and government officers for costs associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., a member of the Appropriations Committee, urged her GOP colleagues to vote against the measure because she thinks lawmakers should spend more time making sure that the funding would be used wisely.
This comes a day after the House passed legislation that would establish a bipartisan independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. It faces an uphill climb in the Senate where Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to vote with them in order for it to pass.