As the Capitol Police inch closer to running out of money for salaries, leaders in both parties acknowledged the gravity of the problem but remain no closer to finding a solution.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Republicans of “withholding” additional funding to the Capitol Police on Tuesday. “We're gonna fight hard” for more funding, he said, adding that Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told Democratic senators at their weekly lunch meeting he would sit down to negotiate with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the panel.
The New York Democrat indicated he would not support a scaled-down $632.9 million proposal pitched by Republicans which would have mostly covered the immediate financial needs of the Capitol Police and National Guard. Leahy has introduced a $3.7 billion Democratic proposal to cover the Capitol Police and National Guard's shortfalls, address a range of security issues around the Capitol and bolster assistance for Afghan refugees and Afghan nationals who assisted the U.S. war effort.
The House passed its own $1.9 billion package to plug security gaps at the end of May, but it has stalled out in the Senate amid Republican opposition.
“The Republicans aren’t going to vote for that big [House] package. And they’re not going to vote for [Leahy’s] either. If we agree on something smaller, you know how that works,” Shelby said. He said it was “possible” they’d come to an agreement before the recess. “We’ve got four weeks.”
In a shortfall first identified by Leahy last month, the Capitol Police could face furloughs next month due to increased costs associated with the Jan. 6 insurrection, unless Congress grants additional funding. The National Guard is also overburdened and might cut training.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled Tuesday he wanted a narrower approach than the current Democratic proposals. Asked what he wanted addressed in a security package, the Kentucky Republican said both the Capitol Police shortfall and National Guard reimbursement “need to be dealt with” before recess.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who leads a subpanel overseeing Capitol Police funding, said in a statement Republicans were obstructing the process.
“Some Congressional Republicans are so desperate to whitewash the Capitol insurrection that they are now holding up funds to pay Capitol Police officers and repay the National Guard, and underfunding needed security infrastructure upgrades to protect the Capitol complex,” he said.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report
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