House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren blasted the Republican Study Committee’s across-the-board spending cut proposal Friday, saying it would force the Capitol Police to lay off 250 officers and would endanger the security of the Capitol complex.
The California Republican, who is a member of the RSC and chaired the group in the 1980s, said the Capitol cannot afford cuts to security, particularly following the January shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.).
“Since the tragedy in Tucson, I have had innumerable Members come to me ... asking me what more we can do for the security of this House, our Members and our constituents,” Lungren said on the House floor. The amendment “would not allow me to do the things you have asked me to do, in terms of securing your offices here or at home.”
The amendment by RSC Chairman Jim Jordan (Ohio) would make an across-the-board 11 percent cut to the continuing resolution’s spending on the legislative branch and a 5.5 percent cut to other accounts unrelated to national security.
The move would force appropriators to slice up to $500 million from the legislative branch in addition to the $194 million that would already be removed under the CR. The Capitol Police would sustain $40 million in cuts under the RSC plan.
“Across-the-board cuts are a lazy Member’s way to achieve something,” Lungren said. “It makes no sense whatsoever.”
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who led the RSC’s debate on the amendment, said Lungren is wrong.
“I take issue with saying any Member of this House is lazy or this is a lazy process,” the Tennessee Republican said. “I know not everyone is a fan of across-the-board cuts, but many of us are and so are our constituents.”
The CR, if passed as-is, would increase the Capitol Police budget by $12.5 million.
Lungren’s comments follow a letter he sent Thursday to RSC members strongly urging them to oppose the amendment. He followed that up with a statement Friday morning in which he warned that the proposal would “paralyze” the Capitol Police force.
House Administration ranking member Robert Brady, also took to the floor on Friday to oppose the amendment. The Pennsylvania Democrat told the story of the Capitol Police officers — the “little guys,” as he called them — who ushered him from his office on September 11, 2001, when the Capitol was a terrorist target.
After they evacuated him, they went back in, risking their lives. He said the cuts would be devastating to the force and that they don’t deserve this kind of treatment.
“I’m embarrassed I have to fight for the little people who can’t fight for themselves,” Brady said. “We don’t want to hurt our little guys and gals.”
But Rep. Frank Guinta (N.H.) said the RSC measure fulfills the promise he and his fellow GOP freshmen made on the campaign trail.
“I said to the people of New Hampshire that we’re first going to cut ourselves before we make tough cuts around the country,” Guinta said.
The proposal is set to be voted on Friday afternoon.