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House passes Capitol security bill, sending to Biden's desk

POLITICO logo POLITICO 7/29/2021 By Nicholas Wu
a man standing in front of a building: A U.S. Capitol Police officer watches the perimeter of the Capitol building. © Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo A U.S. Capitol Police officer watches the perimeter of the Capitol building.

Both the House and Senate on Thursday easily passed a bill addressing Capitol security concerns exacerbated by the Jan. 6 insurrection, following weeks of deadlock.

The $2.1 billion compromise bill plugs security shortfalls around the Capitol complex, fully reimburses the National Guard and Capitol Police for increased staffing needs, provides $1.125 billion in relief for Afghan nationals who assisted the U.S. war effort, and increases the number of visas set aside for the Afghans by 8,000.

No senators voted against it and the House passed it 416-11.

“We have to make a strong statement of support for those officers who defended the building and all that it stands for on that terrible day,” said Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on the Senate floor.

And Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Senate Republican appropriator, applauded the bill as proof they could “work together in a bipartisan way.”


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The compromise comes just days after U.S. Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department officers gave emotional testimony to a House panel about the violence they endured during the worst attack on the Capitol since the War of 1812. Facing increased costs after the insurrection, both the USCP and National Guard faced a potential cash crunch heading into August.

Republicans had originally panned Democrats’ offer as too expensive and questioned whether the provisions supporting Afghan nationals needed to be included in the legislation. Several Republican senators had placed holds on the bill as they voiced their concerns.

The House took up the bill soon after Senate passage under a fast-track process. It earned overwhelming support from the House despite opposition from an unlikely group that included progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and conservatives like Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas).

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said she voted against the legislation because she wanted an investigation before it advanced. She said she believed "we have to stop giving more resources in response to any time there is some level of incompetence or underpreparedness.”

Others who opposed the legislation groused about the speed at which the bill came up for a vote.

"We need time to read and digest these these bills before" they're voted on, said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), who said he was also concerned about an increase in Capitol Police funding.

Roy, an antagonist to both parties, was similarly irked by the speed of the vote, calling the legislation a "procedural sham" and saying it was "unacceptable" for lawmakers to be forced to vote on legislation so soon after the Senate passed it.

Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle contributed to this report.

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