House appropriators advance bill to boost Capitol Police funds, remove Confederate statues

The funding increase comes in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol

Capitol Police officers outside the Capitol on May 12, 2021. The department would get a major funding boost under a fiscal 2022 spending bill advanced by House appropriators.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Capitol Police officers outside the Capitol on May 12, 2021. The department would get a major funding boost under a fiscal 2022 spending bill advanced by House appropriators. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)
Posted June 29, 2021 at 3:51pm

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved along party lines, 33-25, a $4.8 billion fiscal 2022 Legislative Branch spending bill that would expand Capitol Police funding in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“This is a good bill,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who chairs the Legislative Branch Subcommittee. “And I’m proud that it makes a substantial investment to expand recruitment and retention of staff, prioritizes funding to expand diversity and inclusion campuswide, and funds needed investments to support the day-to-day operations of the House.”

The total, which does not include Senate-only spending, represents a 13.8 percent increase over enacted funding levels for all House operations and joint Capitol departments, including the Capitol Police.

This year’s measure calls for boosting Capitol Police funds by $88.4 million to $603.9 million — lower than the $619.2 million Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman requested in April. The bill would allow the force to hire up to 2,112 officers and 450 civilian employees. It also includes language designed to bring more transparency to the notoriously opaque department.

Currently the force has approximately 1,843 sworn officers.

The committee approved two amendments by voice vote. One by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., the ranking member on the Legislative Branch subcommittee, calls for a plaque listing the names of Capitol Police and Metropolitan Police Department officers who served at the Capitol on Jan. 6 to be placed on the west front of the building.

The plaque would be another remembrance of Capitol Police who defended the complex. A plaque dedicated to Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson is located near where they were killed by a gunman attempting to force his way into the Capitol in 1998.

The other amendment, from Ryan, made technical corrections and added language that would make certain amounts of overtime pay earned by Capitol Police officers creditable toward retirement, a provision not allowed under current law.

A boost for the architect of the Capitol would put a hefty increase in the coffers of the agency responsible for maintaining buildings, art and gardens of the Capitol complex. The proposed $738.3 million level for fiscal 2022 is $152.8 million higher than the fiscal 2021 level.

The bill also would mandate the removal statues and busts in the Capitol that depict Confederates or white supremacists.

The bill calls for an additional $134.4 million for members' office accounts, known as Members' Representational Allowances, to $774.4 million. The hope, lawmakers say, is to reduce staff turnover rates by increasing salaries so lawmakers are not forced to lean on lobbyists and outside groups for deep expertise on policy issues.

Lawmaker salaries would remain unchanged, but report language accompanying the bill would order a study comparing their pay with those of managers and executives in the private sector.

The bill was advanced last week in the Legislative Branch subcommittee on a voice vote.

Other agencies under the bill:

  • The Congressional Budget Office would receive $60.9 million, an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal 2021.
  • The Government Publishing Office would get $125.6 million, a jump of $8.6 million over the current fiscal year's funding.
  • The Government Accountability Office would receive $729.3 million, a rise of $68.1 million over fiscal 2021.
  • The Library of Congress would receive $794.4 million, a boost of $37 million over the current fiscal year.
  • The Office of Congressional Workplace Rights would get $8 million, up $500,000 from the current fiscal year.