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House approves $1.9 billion in emergency spending to bolster Capitol security

Capitol riot commission faces uphill battle
Capitol riot commission faces uphill battle 10:37

The House on Thursday narrowly approved legislation providing $1.9 billion to bolster security at the U.S. Capitol in the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection. The bill passed largely along party lines, with all Republicans present and three Democrats voting against it.

The legislation incorporates recommendations from an outside panel to strengthen security around the Capitol complex, such as providing funding for fencing and making improvements to secure windows and doors. It would also essentially create a new standing force of the D.C. National Guard to quickly respond to any threats to the Capitol, after it took hours for the National Guard to be deployed on January 6. National Guard troops have been stationed around the Capitol since January.

It would also rename a Capitol Police wellness program for U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, who died by suicide after the attack, and make changes to improve trauma support.

Republicans have complained that the legislation was crafted largely without their input, and raised concerns about relying on federal troops to protect the Capitol. Others have argued that Congress should be sending money to strengthen security at the southern border instead of at the Capitol.

The bill already faces an uphill battle in the Senate, as it is unclear whether it will receive any Republican support. Democrats hold a 50-seat majority in the Senate, and 60 votes are needed to advance legislation.

Some progressive Democrats have also criticized the bill, questioning whether more funds should be provided to the Capitol Police. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who along with Congresswoman Cori Bush and Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley voted against it, said before the vote that she had "not been convinced of the importance of the money." Three other Democrats voted "present" rather than support or oppose the bill.

"A bill that pours $1.9 billion into increased police surveillance and force without addressing the underlying threats of organized and violent white supremacy, radicalization, and disinformation that led to this attack will not prevent it from happening again. Increasing law enforcement funds does not inherently protect or safeguard the Capitol Hill or surrounding D.C. community," Omar, Bush and Pressley said in a statement after the vote. "This bill prioritizes more money for a broken system that has long upheld and protected the white supremacist violence we saw on display that day."

The vote came the day after the House approved a bill to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack. All Democrats and 35 Republicans supported that bill. But it's also uncertain whether this legislation will receive sufficient support from Republicans in the Senate. Several GOP senators, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have said they will oppose that bill.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put the bill on the Senate calendar on Thursday, vowing that he would bring it to a vote, although he did not set a specific date to do so.

"Maybe, despite the opposition of the Republican leader, the unfortunate and sad opposition of the Republican leader, enough of my Republican colleagues will step up and join with Democrats to establish the commission. They will get a chance to do so very soon," Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.

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