Senate bill would boost Capitol Police budget, maybe rationale for new HQ

Task force found department’s facilities ‘subpar’

Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, says the Senate bill would ensure that the Capitol Police “have the resources and staffing to safeguard the Capitol complex.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Jack Reed, chairman of the Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, says the Senate bill would ensure that the Capitol Police “have the resources and staffing to safeguard the Capitol complex.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted October 18, 2021 at 5:39pm, Updated at 6:24pm

Corrected 6:24 p.m. | Senate Democrats on Monday released a $5.9 billion fiscal 2022 draft Legislative Branch appropriations bill that would boost the U.S. Capitol Police force, as well as direct the Architect of the Capitol to study options for replacing the department’s headquarters on the Senate side of the Capitol complex.

The Senate bill would give the Capitol Police $606.6 million, a $91 million increase over fiscal 2021 and a few million more than the House version. The House’s $4.8 billion version, which does not include Senate-specific spending and passed the chamber in July, would give the Capitol Police $603.9 million and has several accountability measures not addressed in the Senate’s bill.

The Senate bill would provide the department, which has lost between 100 and 200 officers since the start of 2021, enough money to hire up to 212 officers. Officers have been forced to work overtime, and vacation time has become scarce.

The Senate’s explanatory statement acknowledges staffing shortages at the Capitol Police and the department’s interest in “utilizing contracted security guards to meet limited mission requirements.” The committee wants a report on how the department would use those contracted security guards and the costs associated with it.

“This bill is essential to keeping our democracy and the legislative branch of government functioning, safe, and accessible to all Americans,” Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, said in a statement. “Since the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, the Capitol Police have been under an intense workload, and this bill ensures they have the resources and staffing to safeguard the Capitol complex.”

The measure would also provide $2 million for off-campus member security, a response to growing threats that have increased by 107 percent in comparison to the previous year.

The Senate bill, like the House bill, would exclude a cost-of-living adjustment for members of Congress. Aside from those in congressional leadership positions, lawmakers make $174,000 annually and have not received a pay increase since 2009. The Senate version would also let noncitizens enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, work in the legislative branch.

The Architect of the Capitol would get $578 million, but that excludes House-only items. The House version would provide $738 million to the agency. Overall, according to the explanatory statement, the bill includes nearly $772 million for the Architect of the Capitol, including replenishing $43.5 million for construction costs at Fort Meade, which had been appropriated in the last fiscal year but subsequently used to cover costs connected to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

And citing what it refers to as a “Task Force 1–6 Capitol Security Review,” the Senate bill would direct the Architect of the Capitol to “identify and evaluate options for a renovation or replacement of the USCP Headquarters and a new Senate Office Building.” 

USCP headquarters and command center facilities were found by the task force to be “‘subpar and require substantial renovation or replacement to accommodate adequate primary and alternate command, control, and coordination functions, and provide sufficient secure office space and resources to support officer training, equipment storage, and daily work.’”

In addition to new police facilities, senators want to see how a new or renovated Senate office building would help advance the efficiency of the Congress. “Such an evaluation should incorporate external screening portals and access points for visitors and staff for the Senate Office Buildings, secure indoor and underground parking, and additional office, committee, and sensitive compartmented information facility space. The Committee directs the AOC to provide a report to the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate and the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration detailing such options within 180 days of enactment of this act,” the report states.

Under the bill, the Congressional Budget Office would receive $60 million, $3 million over fiscal 2021; the Government Accountability Office would receive $717.5 million, a rise of $56 million over fiscal 2021; the Library of Congress would receive $550.6 million for operations, a boost of $27 million over the last fiscal year; and the Congressional Research Service would get $129 million, a $3.6 million increase over fiscal 2021.

The bill would provide $7 million for Senate intern pay, a bump of $1 million from last fiscal year, a number that gives an average of $70,000 to each Senate office for that purpose.

Correction: This report was corrected to accurately reflect proposed spending for the Architect of the Capitol.