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From Trauma Counselors To Fencing, What's In The House-Passed Capitol Security Bill

Security fencing on Capitol Hill has become a contentious issue in the debate about how to adjust security protocols after the Jan. 6 riot. The House approved a stand-alone funding bill, but it faces challenges in the Senate.
Patrick Semansky
Security fencing on Capitol Hill has become a contentious issue in the debate about how to adjust security protocols after the Jan. 6 riot. The House approved a stand-alone funding bill, but it faces challenges in the Senate.

The House of Representatives has narrowly passed a $1.9 billion security funding bill to reimburse federal agencies for costs related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, prosecution of criminal cases and new efforts to protect Congress better.

A large share of the measure, more than $730 million, would reimburse costs related to the siege for the National Guard and other agencies. The remainder is dedicated to new security measures for the Capitol complex, the ramping up of protection for members as well as other miscellaneous items.

Despite its support among House Democrats, the proposal has received a relatively tepid response from their Senate counterparts. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Leahy, D-Vt., raised concerns during talks and more recently issued a statement stopping short of endorsing the plan.

"I am committed to moving a bill in the Senate to address these important needs; it must be done," Leahy said after the bill was unveiled last Friday. But "we must make sure we are making smart investments in our security based on lessons learned. It is important to me that the Capitol, a potent symbol of our democracy, remain open and accessible to the public and does not feel like a militarized zone."

Republicans in both chambers have panned the measure. On Thursday, the office of Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., dubbed it ahead of the House vote to members as Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "Partisan Plan to Militarize the Capitol."

The less-than-enthusiastic response across the Capitol means its fate in the Senate remains uncertain.

If it does get traction under its current structure, here's where the money would go:

Reimbursing Jan. 6 costs

The bill would direct more than $730 million to agencies that responded to the Jan. 6 insurrection, and the prosecution of the criminal cases that followed.

National Guard: $520.9 million for pay and operations costs for the Guard's deployment at the Capitol and throughout the Washington, D.C., area from Jan. 6 to May 23.

District of Columbia Emergency Planning and Security Fund: $66.8 million to reimburse the District of Columbia for its insurrection response and other security costs.

U.S. Capitol Police: $43.9 million for responding to the riot, including $31.1 million for overtime until the Capitol Police can hire more officers and provide benefits to retain current officers, including hazard pay, retention bonuses and tuition credits. Also $3.3 million for the intelligence division and $5 million for equipment, such as gas masks, tactical vests and body armor. And $4.4 million for wellness and trauma support programs, including six new mental health counselors and wellness resilience specialists.

Architect of the Capitol: $40 million to pay for costs directly related to the attack.

Prosecution support: $39.5 million to process hundreds of prosecutions related to the siege, including $34 million for U.S. attorneys, $3.8 million for the Justice Department's Criminal Division and $1.7 million for the department's National Security Division.

Library of Congress: $13.7 million for upgrading an electronic security system and housing for National Guard personnel.

FBI: $5.5 million for insurrection-related costs.

National Park Service: $1.4 million for overtime and damages from the January attack.

Office of Employee Assistance: $500,800 for new trauma counselors and support for the Office of Employee Assistance.

New security costs

The bill directs more than $950 million to harden the Capitol, and install new security measures for members of Congress.

Architect of the Capitol: $529.7 million, including $250 million to ramp up physical security of the Capitol complex infrastructure such as a retractable or mobile fencing system, hardening of doors and windows, the installation of new security screening vestibules and cameras.

Quick reaction force: $200 million to create a dedicated a new ground force similar to a wing of the D.C. Air National Guard to respond to emergencies for Capitol Police.

Members' security: $21.5 million to the House sergeant-at-arms to ramp up protection details for members, including coordinated travel and upgrades in security for their district offices.

Judicial security: $157.5 million to address security threats to federal judges and court facilities with new equipment, such as cameras.

Judicial security, U.S. Marshals Service: $25 million to protect federal judges, including those who will preside over trials of defendants tied to the insurrection.

Capitol Police: $18 million to provide body cameras to officers, specialized training, new physical barriers and riot control equipment such as ballistic helmets, batons and body shields.

National Park Service: $7.6 million for new U.S. Park Police equipment and infrastructure for new security demands tied to large-scale events and demonstrations.

U.S. Secret Service: $6.8 million for new security needs, such as expanded electronic control device training and issuance, nonlethal munitions and equipment and vehicles.

Other items related to COVID-19

The plan also directs more than $155 million to miscellaneous issues since it is the first appropriations measure to potentially address these costs. These are in many cases unrelated to the insurrection. Some include:

Architect of the Capitol: $99.6 million for costs related to response to COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning, personal protective equipment, telework equipment and overtime pay.

Capitol Police: $800,000 for pandemic-related costs, such as hotel rooms for officers and staff unable to return home due to positive cases of the coronavirus.

Death gratuities: $348,000 for customary death gratuities for the families of the late Reps. Ron Wright, R-Texas, and Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla. "These death gratuities are consistent with the traditional Congressional practice of providing a payment to the families of Members who die in office," House appropriators said in a statement on the expense.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.