One of the House's most liberal Democrats vowed to be the "squeaky wheel" if congressional leaders agree to recommendations from Hill law enforcement to limit access to the Capitol on July Fourth. "This building belongs to the people, not to the Capitol Police, and they ought to accommodate the people who own this building, the American people, so they can come and visit their Capitol," Rep. Sam Farr of California said Thursday, telling CQ Roll Call that the March 12 proposal ticked him off. "This idea that we're going to just curtail everything that's enjoyable — sledding on slopes when it snows, celebration of Fourth of July — is just contrary to the purpose for which this building is here," said Farr, a veteran appropriator with more than two decades of experience in Congress. Farr was recently appointed to the appropriations subcommittee that controls the department's budget.
Congressional leaders who received the two-page letter from the Capitol Police Board do not seem to be pushing back on a plan to curtail festivities, but Farr said they can, "Congress manages the police. They don't manage us."
Farr pitched a few fresh ideas to the way Congress manages its own $4.5 billion pocketbook from his perch on the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee. He told Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine during a Feb. 25 hearing that he has concerns about mission creep.
"I think your mission has grown to areas that you didn't at first get in to. I know you have this bomb squad and sort of the SWAT team, and other specialty areas," Farr said, suggesting that training for all the specialty teams is costing a lot of overtime expense. "Because we're not doing the kinds of things that really you were intended to do, which is to guard the facilities."
Such complaints aren't a first for Farr. In 2004, when then-Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer was pushing Congress to construct a fence around the campus, Farr introduced language to a spending bill to prohibit the department from spending public dollars on the project.
"Put a fence around, lock it up," Farr dryly joked, when first asked about the July Fourth security plan.
Related: Congress Not Pushing Back on July Fourth Security Crackdown Gainer’s Capitol Fence Is Not a Popular Concept Police Want to Curtail Capitol Fourth of July Festivities The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.