by Andrew Trunsky
A $2.1 billion bill to fund the Capitol Police, National Guard and resettlement of Afghans who helped U.S. troops sailed through the Senate Thursday afternoon on a 98-0 vote.
The bill was brokered by Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy and Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby, the two top lawmakers on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The deal, which also provides funding for COVID-19-related measures around the Capitol complex, was reached amid reports that the Capitol Police was set to run out of money in the coming weeks.
“We have the responsibility to take care of the Capitol Police in the wake of their incredible service on January 6th, and to reimburse our National Guard for costs incurred protecting the Capitol,” Mr. Leahy said in a statement after the deal was reached. “We have the responsibility to pay for costs we have already incurred as a result of the pandemic.
“It is also critical that we not leave behind those who helped us in Afghanistan once President Biden fully withdraws U.S. troops later this year,” Shelby said in his own statement. “I am glad the Administration at long last provided Congress the information necessary to address this urgent need.”
Despite the bipartisan compromise, some Republicans criticized the package over its cost.
“Emergencies arise, and the biggest threat to dealing with them, in my opinion, is fiscal irresponsibility in D.C.,” Indiana Sen. Mike Braun said on the floor, adding that the bill could have been financed with offsets from the Department of Defense. “It seems like congress can only agree on one thing: deficits and debt don’t matter anymore.”
The bill provides $521 million for the National Guard, about $106 million for the Capitol Police, $300 million to upgrade security around the Capitol complex, $42 million for COVID response measures around the Capitol and $1.125 billion to relocate Afghans who helped American troops.
Its passage comes over two months after the House passed its own $1.9 billion version of the bill by a one-vote margin and without any Republican support.
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