Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont and chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, unveiled a new $3.7 billion proposal to supplement security funding at the Capitol and beyond in the wake of the January 6 Capitol Insurrection.
The almost $4 billion plan is close to double what House Democrats have already passed in May. In addition to beefing up funding for Capitol Police and the National Guard, the Leahy plan also provided funding to help Afghan supporters of the US military obtain visas as the US ends its combat operations presence there, offers funding for the Department of Defense to help beef up Covid protections and provides a influx in cash to help harden the Capitol’s security posture.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Leahy urged his Senate colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, to support the plan.
“We did not budget for an insurrection, and I am glad that my Republican colleagues have joined the negotiating table on this urgent matter, but their proposal falls far short of the needs of the moment. A violent insurrection happened. A pandemic happened. And the President announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. These events created urgent needs that must be met now.”
Republicans are already signaling their resistance. Leahy’s Republican counterpart, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, has offered a stripped down $633 million dollar proposal that would solve the funding crisis for Capitol Police and the National Guard, but would allow the two sides more time to negotiate the other aspects of the proposal.
In a statement to CNN, Shelby urged Democrats to pass his bill first and continue the negotiations later.
“We all agree we must provide desperately-needed funding for the Capitol Police and National Guard. My bill answers these needs. I urge my Democrat colleagues to join me in passing this bill without further delay. Funding for the Capitol Police and National Guard must not be held hostage because the Democrats insist on billions more in spending that lacks full support at this time,” Shelby said. “The clock is ticking. Let’s pass what we all agree on.”
Speaking to reporters Monday, Shelby said the price tag of $3.7 billion is going in “absolutely the wrong direction.”
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