On Thursday, United States Congress approved a $2.1 Bn supplemental spending bill to address security concerns at Capitol Hill and bolster federal efforts to resettle Afghan refugees who worked alongside American forces in Afghanistan. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature. The US Senate passed the legislation on Thursday afternoon, 98-zero, and the US House approved it immediately afterward in a 416-11 vote.
The Senate Appropriations Chair, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont), and the ranking GOP member, Alabama’s Sen. Richard Shelby, declared the two-party spending deal on Tuesday. But US House leaders said they would support the Senate version anyway, arguing the money is immediately required for the Capitol law enforcement and the translators and others who worked closely with American government forces and civilians in the war-torn nation, Afghanistan.
416-11: House passes $2.1B emergency spending bill to fund US Capitol Police security, reimburse the National Guard, and help relocate Afghans to US who assisted US military during the Afghanistan war. Senate passed bill 98-0 and now heads to President Biden who plans to sign it. pic.twitter.com/reNXFozYDC
— Craig Caplan (@CraigCaplan) July 29, 2021
Furthermore, the bill loosens several requirements for the visas, which legislators express are especially pressing as the US-led military pullout enters its final days and Afghan partners experience expected reprisal from the Taliban forces.
The money for the U.S. Capitol, including law enforcement salaries, the National Guard of the United States, and better secure doors and windows around the building, comes over 180 days after the attack by former US President Donald Trump’s followers. Donald Trump’s supporters violently beat police, and hundreds of them broke into the Capitol building, interrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.
House Provided $44M for Capitol Law Enforcement
Moreover, Democrats have stated that if United States Congress did not approve the bill, money would start running out for salaries of the officers by August 2021 and that the US National Guard might have to call off several training programs.
The bill includes approximately 0.1 Bn dollars for Capitol law enforcement, which was at risk of “lay off officers” without the auxiliary funds, and 0.5 Bn dollars to reimburse the National Guard of the U.S. for deployment to the Capitol building. Moreover, it allocates around 0.3 Bn dollars for security measures at the US Capitol, like upgraded doors, windows, and security cameras.
Previously in May 2021, The US House approved a separate 1.9 Bn dollars security spending bill in response to the 6th January attack, which provided approximately 44M dollars for Capitol law enforcement. However, unlike the US House bill, Leahy said that the newly approved supplemental spending bill doesn’t include creating a quick response force to support Capitol law enforcement.
According to the New York Times, the attack at the US Capitol resulted in one of the worst days of wounds for United States Police since the September 11 attacks. The Times reported that at least 140 law enforcement officers, seventy-three Capitol law enforcement and sixty-five from the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington D.C., were wounded. The injuries ranged from concussions, bruises, rib fractures to a mild heart attack.