Saturday, October 1, 2022

House narrowly passes $ 1.9 billion Capitol Security Bill

WASHINGTON – By the narrowest margin, a divided House on Thursday voted to approve $ 1.9 billion in emergency spending to cover costs associated with the January 6 attack on the Capitol and to increase security for a repeat to prevent, with progressive Democrats joining the Republicans in opposition.

The bill overtook the Democratic-controlled House by a vote of 213 to 212, leaving its future uncertain in the equally divided Senate, where most legislation requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and advance to a vote .

Every Republican voted against the security spending plan – a move the top Democrats cited as further proof that the party is trying to rewrite the history of the mob violence that took place on January 6 by disregarding or outright denying critical facts and against attempts to investigate it. .

“It is very disappointing that every Republican in the House today voted to reject the strengthening of security at the Capitol,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat from Maryland and the majority leader, and gave the vote ‘one more blow’ to acknowledge the truth and acknowledge what happened that day. ”

But while Republicans voted against the spending measure as a bloc, the opposition was nearly defeated by a handful of Liberal Democrats. Several lawmakers on the left who are skeptical about the increase in spending on policing have argued that the Capitol police bear some responsibility for what happened on January 6 – or could even have been complicit in it – because they turned heads. has for right-wing extremism. .

‘The January 6 attack was not due to a lack of police funding; it was a lack of coordination, preparation and sharing of intelligence, “said New York Representative Jamaal Bowman, who voted ‘present’ to register opposition. ‘It was because the threat of white rule was enabled to by spreading our whole country, including within law enforcement. ‘

He was one of half a dozen Liberal Democrats – including members of the progressive group known as ‘the group’ – who either voted ‘present’ or directly opposed the legislation. Their objections would have been enough to drop the proposal in a room where Democrats have only a slim majority and need almost every member to stay together if Republicans remain united in opposition.

Their views led to a spate of tense negotiations on the House floor before the vote, as Democratic leaders called for the progressive positions to change course. Eventually, they met Mr. Bowman, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also from New York, and Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan persuaded to vote ‘present’ while submitting their protest, but the measure defeated an embarrassment.

Representatives Cori Bush of Missouri, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts voted ‘no’.

The resistance reflects the ongoing anger among Democrats in Congress, especially the legislators of color, over the contrast between the law enforcement’s response to the rioters of the Capitol – a mostly white group – and sensational episodes of excessive use of force against blacks. Americans by police officers. across the country.

The attack on the Capitol was one of the most violent in American history. Nearly 140 police officers were injured and at least five people were killed in the riot.

The bill would provide more than $ 520 million to reimburse the National Guard, which has provided thousands of troops to patrol the newly fortified Capitol; $ 250 million to create retractable fences and other security features; $ 200 million to create a rapid response force in the National Guard to respond to future emergencies; $ 160 million to harden windows and doors; more than $ 175 million to protect federal judges and courts; and nearly $ 40 million to fund the prosecution of people accused of storming the Capitol.

It contains smaller pots of money to equip Capitol police officers with body cameras and strengthen the intelligence department, increasing the protection of lawmakers as they travel through the country.

“Like many of us in the Capitol community, I am still shaken by the violence and terror of that day and the tragedies that followed,” said Rosa DeLauro, a representative of Connecticut and chair of the Home Credit Committee, representative Rosa DeLauro, who said that the police in Capitol said. needed better equipment.

The bill will also rename the Capitol Police Wellness Center to Officer Howard Liebengood, who died in the aftermath of the attack due to suicide.

Many of the proposals, endorsed by Capitol police, were recommended by a panel chaired by Russel L. Honoré, a retired Army lieutenant general appointed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to monitor Capitol security. to investigate the riot.

Representative Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio and chairman of the subcommittee overseeing police in the Capitol, said the bill is necessary to cover payments for the long overtime that many officers worked after the attack.

“This is an extremely important investment in our workforce,” he said.

The vote came a day after the House approved the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the riot in the Capitol. Four fifths of the Republicans of the House opposed the measure amid increasing pressure from former President Donald J. Trump and his supporters to shift the focus from the attack.

Hours before the vote, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the minority leader, declared his opposition to the plan after saying he could vote for it a day earlier.

Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York and the majority leader, said he plans to get the commission to vote soon – possibly the first Republican filibuster attempt of President Biden’s term.

Unlike the House’s vote on the commission, in which 35 Republicans gathered their party leadership to join the Democrats, Republicans rallied Thursday to oppose the spending bill, citing costs and concerns over the Capitol creating a militarized atmosphere accept. Since the attack, the complex has been surrounded by fences – initially covered with barbed wire and guarded by thousands of national army troops.

Representative Kay Granger of Texas, the top Republican on the Credit Committee, said Democrats follow a biased approach to the measure and bring it to the fore without enough comment from Republicans.

“This is a one-sided solution that does not even have a buy-in from Democrats in the Senate,” she said. Granger said.

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington State, one of ten Republicans who voted for Mr. Blaming Trump for his role in inciting the mob that attacked the Capitol said it was appropriate to compensate the military and secure the complex, but that there were still too many problems with the legislation solved.

“We are financing something that is incomplete,” she said. “We certainly do not need to militarize the Capitol.”

The top Republicans in the House and Senate Armed Services Committees also opposed the bill to include a rapid reaction force.

Across the Capitol, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont and chairman of the Allocation Committee, said he was committed to pushing a security bill through the Senate, but wanted the Capitol ‘open and accessible to the public. should stay and not feel like a militarized zone. ”

Nation World News Desk
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