WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Democrats propose $ 3.7 billion in emergency spending to bolster Capitol security, repay outstanding debts from the Jan. 6 insurrection, and help the federal government reduce the cost of COVID- 19 pandemic to contest. The legislation met with immediate opposition from Republicans, who put a much tighter version on the market.
Democrats say their bill, tabled more than six months after supporters of former President Donald Trump’s supporters attacked the Capitol, is necessary to ensure that the Capitol cops who fought the insurgents that day, and the National Guard troops protecting the building will not face wage cuts or funding shortages months later in the coming months.
It is only the latest focal point in Congress’s response to the January 6 attack, in which a violent crowd of Trump supporters pushed past the police, broke into the building, interrupting President Joe Biden’s confirmation of victory. Some Republicans have downplayed the violence of the day, and almost everyone in the GOP has opposed major new spending on security improvements. Not a Republican voted for a Capitol security bill passed by the House of Representatives in May.
Similar to House Legislation, the Senate bill would provide dollars to secure buildings and doors, increase personal protection for lawmakers, install new security cameras, and create a new US Capitol Protection Task Force that could react quickly if there were another attack on Congress.
In addition to the security improvements, the bill would allocate $ 1.3 billion in emergency dollars to combat the effects of COVID at the Department of Defense and additional money to help other agencies with pandemic costs. It would also include $ 100 million in refugee aid in Afghanistan when the US pulls out of the war there, and it would increase the number of visas for some Afghan immigrants.
Senior Republican Senate Appropriations Committee, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, called the legislation a “Democratic wish list” and proposed a separate $ 633 million bill that the Capitol Police and National Guard used to cover costs the January 6th response should be paid. The large discrepancy between the two bills made it unlikely that the 50-50 Senate Democrats would find enough support to pass their more expensive bills.
“I think that’s our conference there,” Shelby told reporters on Monday, referring to the narrower GOP law. “It’s not what you want, it’s what you need. We have to finance the police and we have to finance the watch and move on. ”
However, Senate Resource Allocation Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Said Congress “did not budget for an insurrection” and said the Republican version was well below what was needed. He said his memories of “the growing roar of that mob that echoed down the hall as the Capitol Police got us to safety” on Jan. 6 have not faded.
“I appreciate that they bring something, but it’s a pretty small thing,” Leahy said of the GOP bill. “It is a proposal that does not provide adequate resources to secure the Capitol or meet urgent needs that have grown since January 6th. The pictures of the mob breaking in the windows and pushing their way through the doors reveal the truth. ”
The Associated Press Writer Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.