Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) introduced a bill Thursday that would create an account within the Capitol Police budget to reimburse local law enforcement agencies for security provided at Congressional events, in response to the shootings in Arizona.
Local police currently foot the bill for law enforcement provided at district events.
“The tragedy that occurred in Tucson, Ariz., left the public and Members of Congress concerned about their safety,” Roe said in a statement. “This legislation will leave security in the hands of the professionals who know our communities best: our local law enforcement.”
Roe would cap the annual reimbursement at $10 million. The Capitol Police’s annual expenses budget is $58 million, though they have $279 million for salaries.
That budget includes a $14 million increase in the latest appropriations bill passed last year to prevent furloughs and layoffs.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, chairman of the Capitol Police Board this year, said an increase in funding would be needed if the bill becomes law, not only for the reimbursements, but for personnel to carry them out.
“It’s a very interesting thought, but not without cost,” Gainer said. “Unequivocally, the Capitol Police doesn’t have it out of hide right now, so any money dedicated to this would have to be in addition to their current request.”
The bill would leave it up to the Capitol Police Board, along with the House Administration and Senate Rules and Administration committees, to set regulations about what constitutes an official event and what would be considered a reasonable reimbursement.
In a release, however, Roe recommended at least one officer per 25 attendees.
But he told a local newspaper earlier this month that he has no protocol for security at local events, even though a man is currently in jail for making threats against him.
He also said at the time that he would support using Homeland Security funds to pay overtime to local officers.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.