Capitol Police seeking $840 million budget ahead of 2024
Washington — The U.S. Capitol Police is poised to ask Congress for a 14% budget increase in 2024, which would bring the agency's budget to more than $840 million, CBS News has learned. The request will be made this week in a hearing of a House subcommittee that oversees funding for the police department charged with securing the Capitol and keeping lawmakers safe, according to a Democratic congressman who has reviewed and shared details of the request.
The budget request comes amid growing concerns of violent threats against members of Congress and during a third year of efforts to prevent a recurrence of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack.
If approved, the budget would give Congress' internal police department an annual budget larger than the police departments of several major American cities, including Philadelphia, Denver, Cleveland and Tampa.
The approximately $840 million request would dwarf some prior years' requests, and it would more than double the budget request of $356 million made by the department in 2015.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, told CBS News that the proposed budget, which will be submitted Wednesday by Capitol Police chief Thomas Manger, will request funding to pursue the hiring of approximately 800 more officers. The agency, which has roughly 2,300 sworn officers and other employees, has been actively recruiting to maintain its force, as it faces a series of routine retirements of veteran officers while still dealing with the impact of retirements and resignations prompted by the January 6 attack.
"Given what's happening in the country, it's important that everybody be safe in the center of democracy," Espaillat said. He added that the police department faces a growing and pressing need to ensure protection for members of Congress in and outside of Washington, D.C.
A CBS News review of Capitol Police records showed the agency has handled nearly 26,000 threat investigations in the past three years. The agency investigated 7,501 cases involving threats against members of Congress in 2022, down from a high of 9,625 in 2021 but still nearly double the 3,939 cases it investigated in 2017.
Espaillat said the potential presence of former President Donald Trump as a nominee for the White House in 2024 could increase the rancor and vitriol of American politics, and underscores the need for a stronger and better resourced police department.
"He will inject some toxic feelings into the race in 2024 that will warrant greater security," Espaillat said.
Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch, said the panel is not offering a blank check to the Capitol Police department and there will be time for "back and forth" and a review of the department's request. Amodei, a Republican, told CBS News that "the cake will by no means be baked" when the police chief details the budget request Wednesday.
Amodei noted the Capitol Police have a unique mission and need for resources.
"Their mission is not just the folks you see in uniform at the doors at the (Capitol) entrances," he said. Amodei and Espaillat both emphasized the importance of the department's dignitary protection unit, which helps protect members of Congress nationwide.
Congressional leaders and members of Congress and their families have suffered a series of attacks over the past 12 years, including the 2011 shooting of former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Gifford, the shooting rampage at a 2017 Congressional Republican baseball practice that wounded House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, of Louisiana, and a 2022 hammer attack against Paul Pelosi, husband of then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at the couple's home in San Francisco.
Amodei said the committee's Wednesday hearing will be the beginning of a lengthy review process of the police department's budget. "The only refuge is in the facts," Amodei said.
Amodei said the panel will also review the changes made by the police department in the wake of the Capitol assault. "We want to make sure that, as we go forward, we don't ignore or fail to take a look at those lessons learned," he said.
The U.S. Capitol Police would not comment on the agency's forthcoming budget request.
At a December hearing of the Senate Rules Committee, Manger talked about the department's efforts to bolster recruitment, saying "We have added a significant number of new recruits to our roster, men and women who play an invaluable part in the (Capitol) reopening effort."
Manger told Senators, "I do not have to tell you how critical it is for the department to be adequately staffed. I know you have heard me talk about it time and again. We cannot strengthen protective details or fully reopen the Capitol without more personnel."
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