The top Democrat and Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee have reached a deal on a roughly $2 billion Capitol Hill security spending bill in response to the deadly January 6 insurrection.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee chair, and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican member, announced the agreement on Tuesday, the same day that four officers who were on the front lines of the insurrection testified about the horrific violence they had faced that day during a hearing convened by the House select committee investigating the attack.
The Senate security supplemental funding bill will provide funding for the Capitol Police, the National Guard and other law enforcement partners to cover costs incurred during the insurrection. The legislation would help ensure the Capitol is protected in the future by paying for security upgrades at the Capitol complex. Funding is also set aside for expenses related to Covid-19 response at the Capitol and several other priorities.
The exact timing of a Senate vote on the security bill is still to be determined, but could potentially come as early as this week.
The House of Representatives passed a $1.9 billion security spending bill in response to the January 6 attack in May. Since the Senate deal is a separate and new piece of legislation, the House would need to take it up and pass it after it is approved by the Senate before it could be sent to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill will provide $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for the cost of deployment to Capitol Hill and roughly $70 million to the Capitol Police to cover expenses incurred in response to the attack, according to a fact sheet released by Leahy’s office. An additional $300 million will be used to bolster safeguards for the Capitol complex, including funds for window and door upgrades and the installation of new security cameras.
To cover the cost of the Covid-19 response at the Capitol, $42.1 million will be provided, including $800,000 to reimburse the Capitol Police for expenses such as the use of personal protective equipment during the pandemic.
According to the fact sheet, the legislation will also provide humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees, including $600 million to the Department of State “for refugee and migration assistance and to improve and strengthen the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program.”
The bill makes specific changes to the visa program, including increasing the number of authorized visas by 8,000 and lowering an employment eligibility requirement from two years to one.
In a sign of the bipartisan support behind the agreement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the deal on Wednesday.
“I applaud the bipartisan work from our colleagues,” McConnell said. “I’m sure neither side finds the compromise perfect, but I believe that both sides should and will agree that it is absolutely necessary.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Wednesday that he was “pleased to hear the Republican leader support this supplemental appropriations bill this morning and I look forward to working with our Republican colleagues to swiftly pass this legislation through the Senate.”
The deal, Schumer said, will replenish “critical funds and support the hard-working men and women who keep this building, senators, staff, media, and Capitol employees safe.”
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