Senate tensions over a Capitol Police funding bill are nearing a boiling point, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on an amount with just weeks before its funding runs dry.
The department said last week that its funding could run out as soon as next month, risking furloughs and sparking bipartisan concern. But while the House passed a $1.9 billion funding bill in May, partisan divisions in the Senate have stalled it, with Democrats insisting for even more funding and Republicans calling the House bill a nonstarter.
Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, the Senate Appropriations Committee’s chair and ranking member, have both put forward plans only to see them shot down by one another.
“It was stupid. That’s why I didn’t like it, it was stupid,” Leahy told reporters regarding Shelby’s plan Monday. “We waited for weeks and weeks and weeks; we look like idiots.”
“If [Republicans] want to block it, if they want to fight against it, if they want to say we can’t pay the National Guard for protecting the U.S. Capitol or say we can’t pay the police officers who protected our lives … let them stand up and say it,” Leahy added. (RELATED: Capitol Police Establishing Field Offices To Investigate Threats Against Lawmakers)
Leahy’s $3.7 billion bill includes funding for Capitol Police and the National Guard, but also includes broader funding for Afghans who helped the U.S. military, money to fund the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 riot, funding for Capitol security and for coronavirus related measures. It’s nearly double the size of the House’s bill, which Republicans already argue is too broad.
Their bill, totaling approximately $632 million, provides $521 million for the National Guard, about $97 million for Capitol Police and $15 million for the Architect of the Capitol.
Capitol Police and the National Guard have been stationed throughout the Capitol grounds for most of the past six months, after a mob stormed the building in an attempt to block Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.
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