Senate spending leaders are closing in on a more than $2 billion agreement to fill the waning budgets of the Capitol Police and National Guard after months of strain following the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) are negotiating the deal as a counter proposal to the $1.9 billion emergency spending bill that stalled in the Senate after House passage in May. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that he wants to pass the supplemental spending bill “this week,” but the support of at least 10 Republican senators is not yet locked in — a necessity to pass the upper chamber.
“We’ve still got to pass it through the Senate,” Leahy, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Tuesday afternoon.
The package is expected to total just over $2 billion, including more than $1 billion for the Department of Defense, $100 million for the Capitol Police and $300 million for other Capitol security measures, according to sources familiar with the proposal.
“It took a lot of work. Sen. Shelby was very forthcoming,” Leahy said. “I appreciate that we have a long, long relationship and friendship.”
Under the $1 billion for the Pentagon, about $500 million would go to the National Guard, with another $500 million in assistance to aid Afghan nationals who have facilitated U.S. war efforts. To help process special immigrant visas for those individuals, the State Department would receive $600 million. The Department of Health and Human Services would get $25 million to resettle those refugees, according to the sources.
“We think we’ve got a deal and we hope to file today, later today,” Shelby told reporters during votes Tuesday. “But it’s not sealed yet,” he cautioned.
While a spokesperson for Leahy said a deal has been reached, a Senate GOP aide could not confirm a final agreement, instead stressing that one is close.
Leahy has warned that Capitol Police salaries will be depleted next month and the National Guard will have to cut training, the law enforcement unit and the Pentagon might be able to shift funding to cover their shortfalls if lawmakers don’t act swiftly to clear the emergency cash.
Shelby has previously said he’d like to move the security supplemental by unanimous consent or another expedited process, which wouldn’t require leadership to carve out precious floor time to debate the bill.
Lawmakers have sparred for months over funding to plug security gaps the Jan. 6 insurrection exposed. Republicans panned the majority party’s offers as too expensive, while Democrats insisted any security bill also include assistance for the Afghan nationals.
Any deal the Senate might pass could face turbulence in the House, where progressives nearly tanked passage of the lower chamber’s version of the security bill. The three House Democrats who voted against that measure this spring criticized the proposal for not providing enough funding for counseling and treatment for staff and for throwing more funding at a policing system that is not sufficiently checked.
“I know $2.1 billion is better than zero. Politics is the art of the possible,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), whose district borders D.C. and has been strongly pushing for more Capitol police funding.
“I thought our bill was very good, but I’m in the House. And even then it only passed by one vote, he added.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday the lower chamber could take up the bill later this week, if the Senate can move quickly.
Hoyer said he spoke with Leahy earlier Tuesday and urged quick action so the House could vote before leaving for its lengthy August recess. But he also didn’t rule out extending the House session or bringing the chamber back in session during August.
“I’m hopeful that the Senate could move as soon as tomorrow on that bill,” Hoyer says.
Nicholas Wu and Jennifer Scholtes contributed to this report.