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House Dem group proposes $200M permanent military force for the US Capitol

The U.S. Capitol Building. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times/TNS)
May 14, 2021

House Democrats revealed a $1.9 billion spending bill on Friday that would bolster security at the U.S. Capitol with a number of changes, including $200 million for a dedicated, permanent “quick reaction force” in the DC National Guard.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro introduced the bill, saying, “This emergency supplemental appropriation addresses the direct costs of the insurrection and strengthens Capitol security for the future. It is also long overdue recognition of the work of the Capitol Police, the sacrifices that they and their families have made, and the changes they need.”

Aside from the $200 million quick reaction force, the bill includes:

  • $250 million for fencing, sensors, changes to landscape
  • $162.7 million for strengthened doors and windows
  • $157.5 million for increased security for federal judges
  • $17 million for security cameras at the Capitol and House office buildings
  • $8.6 million for Capitol Police body cameras
  • $6.8 million for Capitol Police training
  • $2.8 million for “non-lethal” weapons for the U.S. Secret Service

The bill also includes $521 million to reimburse states for National Guard deployment earlier this year. Of that amount, $231 million is for personnel costs and $218.5 million for operations and maintenance costs to the Army National Guard. Another $28.9 million covers personnel costs and $42.5 million operation and maintenance costs in the Air National Guard. The costs also include those incurred until May 23, when the current deployment of 2,000 National Guard troops is set to end.

The bill includes 17 Democrat cosponsors, Reps. Donald Beyer, Cori Bush, Kathy Castor, Yvette Clarke, Adriano Espaillat, Ro Khanna, Barbara Lee, Carolyn Maloney, James McGovern, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Ayanna Pressley, Janice Schakowsky, Rashida Tlaib, and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton.

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was not among the bill’s cosponsors, said on Friday, “Protecting the U.S. Capitol Complex and all who serve and work in it is of the highest priority. The House will also soon move forward with an emergency security supplemental which will provide for the safety of Members and harden the Capitol against further attacks.”

The Capitol Security Review panel led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré released a report in March recommending the formation of a dedicated quick reaction force, comprised of either federal agents, or National Guard troops in various potential force compositions.

“The USCP relies on augmentation from other civilian law enforcement agencies for emergency support, but we recommend establishment of a robust, dedicated QRF, not only for the USCP, but to serve the nation’s capital writ large,” the panel’s report said at the time.

Also on Friday, the House Homeland Security Committee also agreed to create a 9/11 review-style commission to investigate domestic terrorism during the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

“There has been a growing consensus that the January 6th attack is of a complexity and national significance that we need an independent commission to investigate,” Rep. Bennie Thompson said. “Inaction – or just moving on – is simply not an option.”