The House narrowly passed a $1.9 billion measure on Thursday to strengthen security at the U.S. Capitol following the January 6 riot, despite opposition from Republicans and a handful of progressives. The bill sets aside money to outfit U.S. Capitol police officers with body cameras, install a retractable fence and other fortifications in the Capitol complex, and establish “a quick reaction force within the District of Columbia National Guard,” among other things.
After a tight 213-212 vote, the bill will move on to the Senate, where it’s expected to meet even more resistance. Though most Democratic members supported the allocation of funds, several progressives broke ranks, citing concerns that increasing police funding without new accountability measures would not actually make the Capitol more secure. No Republicans supported the bill.
Three Democratic representatives — Ilhan Omar, Cori Bush, and Ayanna Pressley — voted no on the measure. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman, and Rashida Tlaib voted present.
Omar told Politico, “I am frankly tired of any time where there is a failure in our system of policing, the first response is for us to give them more money.”
She added that she saw failures in “police preparedness and procedures and the lack of political will to engage, to protect the Capitol on January 6,” and “it is not clear to me how the supplemental addresses that.”
Bowman said he voted present because, while the bill included some measures he backs — “like making sure our custodial staff and our cleaners have the resources they need to respond and deal with this trauma” — he’s against increasing police budgets.
He told Politico that the Capitol riot was “not due to a lack of police funding” and Capitol officials need to “investigate those who were complicit in this attack.”
“Pouring billions more into policing does not accomplish that goal,” he said.
The bill’s passage comes just one day after the House voted in favor of forming a bipartisan commission to investigate facts and causes behind the Capitol siege and assess what actions or changes are needed to prevent any future incidents. Congressional Republican leadership was united in their opposition to the legislation, but it passed 252-175 with 35 Republican House members defecting and voting in favor.
Both the Capitol security measure and the January 6 Commission bill face an uphill battle in the Senate, where passage would require the support of all Democrats and ten Republicans.