House Democratic appropriators on Wednesday released the text of a $4.8 billion fiscal 2022 Legislative Branch appropriations bill, which includes key boosts for offices and agencies stretched thin in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The measure, which does not include Senate-only spending, would provide 13.8 percent more than the $4.2 billion in discretionary funds appropriated in fiscal 2021.
The Capitol Police would get $603.9 million, an $88.4 million boost over the previous year. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman in April requested $619.2 million, over $100 million above the previous year’s budget of $515.5 million. The House draft bill comes in $15.3 million short of what Pittman asked for.
The Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a markup of the measure at noon Thursday. The committee said its report includes measures to help bring more transparency to the force, which is notoriously nebulous.
That panel’s chairman, Tim Ryan, alluded to that proposed change in his statement.
“I am pleased that this legislation increases transparency, diversity and leadership training for the United States Capitol Police,” the Ohio Democrat said.
That funding would allow the department to hire up to 2,112 sworn police officers and 450 civilian employees. The department is currently hemorrhaging officers. The Capitol Police union said more than 70 officers have left since the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and it expects to lose hundreds more in the coming years to retirements and attrition.
The department has approximately 1,843 sworn officers. Earlier this year, retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel L. Honoré led a review of Capitol security in which he found the department had 233 officer vacancies and that officers worked almost 720,000 overtime hours in fiscal 2020. Honoré recommended adding 854 positions.
The force has been upended in the aftermath of the insurrection and is enduring arguably the most trying time in its almost 200-year existence. Top leaders have resigned or been forced out. The force’s fundamental ability to protect Congress has been called into question. Communication failures, a lack of preparation and intelligence misses on the part of department leaders, including by Pittman, all exposed deep deficiencies in the Capitol Police.
There is also the matter of a $1.9 billion security supplemental funding bill that barely passed the House, 213-212, without a single Republican vote. Earlier this week, Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick J. Leahy warned that the Capitol Police will run out of funding in August if the security measure is not approved by then. The department faced a serious equipment shortage that the supplemental bill would work to ameliorate.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, the top Republican on the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, said there are components of the draft bill that are “good and should be helpful moving forward,” but added she has some concerns and planned to speak with Ryan later Wednesday.
The Washington Republican added that there “are some bigger picture problems,” noting the separate security supplemental, and what she says are needed changes to the Capitol Police Board and department leadership.
Over 80 Capitol Police officers were injured as a result of the Capitol assault. Officers have been overworked, and morale is the lowest one veteran officer has seen in more than a decade of service. Three officers have died since Jan. 6.
The department is on track to change in several areas. The Capitol Police Board is in the process of selecting a new chief, and lawmakers are calling for significant structural changes to the board. The department’s inspector general, Michael A. Bolton, has proposed a swarm of recommendations that includes organizational shifts in the intelligence section and mandating training on powerful weapons that officers carry.
Interns and DACA
The bill also includes language directing the Architect of the Capitol to remove statues or busts in the Capitol that “represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of white supremacists Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke and the bust of Roger B. Taney.”
Other agencies under the auspices of the bill include:
- The Architect of the Capitol, which would get $738.3 million, a large boost of $152.8 million over fiscal 2021. This includes $93 million for the Cannon House Office Building renovation project, which has gone significantly over budget. J. Brett Blanton, the only member of the Capitol Police Board still with a job since the Jan. 6 insurrection, is being investigated by his agency's inspector general for alleged misuse of a government vehicle. The agency has also been cited as being unprepared for hostile activities that includes active shooters and riots.
- The Congressional Budget Office, which would receive $60.9 million, an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal 2021.
- The Government Publishing Office, which would get $125.6 million, a jump of $8.6 million over the current fiscal year's funding.
- The Government Accountability Office, which would receive $729.3 million, a rise of $68.1 million over fiscal 2021.
- The Library of Congress, which would receive $794.4 million, a boost of $37 million over the current fiscal year.
- The Office of Congressional Workplace Rights, which would get $8 million, up $500,000 from the current fiscal year.