- The Washington Times - Monday, July 12, 2021

Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby introduced an emergency funding bill Monday that would reimburse the National Guard for their Capitol deployment in response to the Jan. 6 attack.

The House passed a $1.9 billion emergency spending bill in May that included more than $520 million in funds to reimburse the National Guard for their deployment and other measured aimed at improving security at the Capitol complex. But the bill has stalled in the Senate.

Senate Republicans balked at the total size of the bill without a comprehensive assessment of what security changes are required.

The $632.9 million bill from Mr. Shelby, Alabama Republican, would fund only the National Guard and U.S. Capitol Police for the costs incurred in their response to the Jan. 6 attacks. Funding for security upgrades to the Capitol would be postponed.

“We all agree we must provide desperately-needed funding for the Capitol Police and National Guard. My bill answers these needs,” Mr. Shelby said in a statement. “I urge my Democrat colleagues to join me in passing this bill without further delay. Funding for the Capitol Police and National Guard must not be held hostage because the Democrats insist on billions more in spending that lacks full support at this time.”

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, warned lawmakers last month that if the service was not reimbursed “fairly soon” they may be forced to cancel or dramatically reduce training and drills for the rest of the fiscal year and slash operational maintenance requirements.

“It will have a very significant impact on National Guard readiness if we’re not able to resolve that in a timely manner,” he said.

Gen. Hokanson said the Guard tapped into its budget to fund the deployment of 26,000 personnel to the nation’s capital from every state and territory in the U.S. The deployment lasted from Jan. 6 until May 23.

Democrats on the panel later released a comprehensive $3.7 billion bill — nearly twice the pricetag of the House-passed proposal — that would add several other measures to the funding for the National Guard and Capitol Police.

Those adds include $1.3 billion in Pentagon COVID-19 related funds, emergency aid to Afghan refugees, and provisions aimed at reforming the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program, a State Department program for Afghans who helped U.S. troops during the 20-year war. 

“We did not budget for an insurrection, and I am glad that my Republican colleagues have joined the negotiating table on this urgent matter, but their proposal falls far short of the needs of the moment,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat and Senate Appropriations Committee chairman.

“A violent insurrection happened. A pandemic happened. And the president announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. These events created urgent needs that must be met now. A piecemeal approach is no way to govern, and I have been here long enough to know that a promise to do it ‘later’ is no promise at all,” he said.

Mr. Leahy added that hoped to have the bill done before the Senate leaves for the August recess.

Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to cancel the upcoming August recess unless Congress approves reimbursement for the National Guard.

“The supplemental, passed by the House in a partisan manner in May, languishes in the Democrat-controlled Senate over concerns of extraneous spending,” Mr. Rogers said in a letter Monday to Ms. Pelosi, California Democrat. “This partisan bill harms our National Guard.

“We must come together and pass a clean supplemental to ensure the National Guard, which remained unnecessarily at the Capitol with your support, has the funds needed to train for and fulfill their mission. I urge you to cancel any recesses or ‘Committee Work Weeks’ until a supplemental appropriation is signed into law.”

Mike Glenn contributed to this article.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide