Congress gave final approval Thursday to a $2 billion emergency supplemental spending bill to reimburse the U.S. Capitol Police and National Guard for their deployment in response to Jan. 6.
The spending had been held up in a dispute between Democrats wanting more money for Capitol security and Republicans wanting to limit it to the emergency expenses from the Jan. 6 response.
They finally struck a deal for a bill that provides $100 million for the Capitol Police and more than $500 million for the National Guard. The bill also provides more than $1 billion in funding for Afghan Special Immigrant Visa and refugee resettlement programs requested by the White House earlier this week.
“If we do not act, the Capitol Police will deplete salaries funding in a matter of weeks, and the National Guard will be forced to cancel needed training to carry out their mission at home and abroad,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said before the vote. “Doing nothing would be a security crisis entirely of our own making.”
Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, warned lawmakers last month that if the service was not reimbursed soon they may be forced to cancel or dramatically reduce training and drills for the rest of the fiscal year and slash operational maintenance requirements. He said the Guard tapped into its budget to fund the deployment of 26,000 personnel to the nation’s capital from every state and territory in the U.S. The deployment lasted from Jan. 6 until May 23.
Late last week, the Nebraska National Guard announced that it had begun cutting training events due to the lack of funding from Congress.
Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby earlier proposed $632.9 million in emergency aid to fund the National Guard and Capitol Police, but postpone additional security upgrades to the Capitol.
Democrats on the panel responded with a $3.7 billion bill — nearly twice the price tag of the House-passed proposal — that would add several other measures, including $1.3 billion in Pentagon COVID-19 related funds, to the funding for the National Guard and Capitol Police.
Several Republicans reportedly objected to the compromise bill that passed Thursday.
“Emergencies arise and the biggest threat to dealing with them, in my opinion, is fiscal irresponsibility in D.C.,” Sen. Mike Braun, Indiana Republican, said. “We could have easily paid for the major parts of this legislation with offsets within the DoD. I think our spending process is broken at every level. We don’t do budgets anymore. We vote that the rules don’t matter. It seems like Congress can only agree on one thing, deficits and debt don’t matter anymore. But they do, and both parties are to blame.”
Still, the measure passed the Senate 98-0 before going to the House, where it won final approval in a 416-11 vote. It’s now headed to President Biden’s desk.
“It is about time that Congress finally passed a clean bill to fund the National Guard,” said Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee.
He previously urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, to cancel August recess if the funding was not passed in time.
“I am glad that we came to our senses and finally addressed this issue before it was too late. We should never again use the men and women of the National Guard in security theater,” Mr. Rogers said.