Senators Go to Bat for More Funding to Protect Themselves

June 15, 2018 Nancy Ognanovich
  • Appropriators approve extra $26.5 million for Capitol Police
  • Action comes on anniversary of baseball practice shooting

Senate appropriators marked the one-year anniversary of the congressional baseball practice shooting that almost killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) by voting to boost spending on police protection for Congress.

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously backed a plan to fund congressional operations that includes a $26.5 million increase for the U.S. Capitol Police. The money would be spent on hiring more officers and developing plans to bolster security at the Capitol as well as events when lawmakers travel off campus.

The $453.36 million total budget for the police is included in the draft $4.8 billion Legislative Branch spending bill that is in line to be on the Senate floor as soon as next week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to insert the measure into a must-pass “minibus” with other spending bills.

Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), chairman of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, said the extra funds are required to address growing threats at the Capitol and in lawmakers’ home states. He said the shooting in Alexandria, Va.— which injured Scalise and endangered others including Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—amounted to a warning of the increased dangers facing members.

“The unfortunate reality is this Capitol complex and its occupants face an evolving and growing threat environment,” Daines told lawmakers during a markup of the bill. The measure was approved on a vote of 31-0.

The $453 million provided for the police in fiscal 2019 represents the fourth year of a five-year effort to boost the Capitol’s police force by 20 percent, according to appropriators. The bill would give the police 90 days after enactment to report back to Congress with a detailed plan for deploying new officers the force requested for 2019 and 2020. The plan would be required to show a risk-based analysis of the threats to the Capitol complex and to members of Congress.

Daines said the 2017 shooting in Alexandria also shows that the physical targeting of members of Congress is an increasing danger. In addition to funds to secure the Capitol complex, lawmakers backed a plan to spend $1 million to beef up their security elsewhere in the Washington area. Under the bill the extra funds could be used to reimburse local police for security help.

Senate appropriators also backed a 90-day deadline for the police to come back to them with a plan to strengthen off-campus security. And committee members supported another initiative to save lives if another attack occurs.

The bill would fund an initiative pushed by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) to train Capitol police in bleeding-control techniques that were developed by the American College of Surgeons after the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School in Murphy’s home state. Murphy said the “Stop the Bleed” techniques can significantly improve survival rates from injuries sustained in mass shootings, car accidents, and more.

The committee said the Capitol police has begun providing the training to officers and has a goal of ensuring that all officers eventually can administer basic bleeding control techniques.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nancy Ognanovich in Washington at nognanov@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com; Katherine Rizzo at krizzo@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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