Congress gives itself a Christmas present: A huge funding boost in the $1.7T spending bill
One of the biggest spending increases in the $1.7 trillion spending bill that Congress is hoping to pass this week is funding for Congress itself.
The bill includes across-the-board increases for every federal entity, including the legislative branch, which would see a 16.5% funding increase if the bill becomes law. That increase for Congress is second only to funding for military construction and veterans, which get a 20.9% bump, according to an analysis from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
Total legislative branch funding would be $6.9 billion for the fiscal year, up $975 million from last year. The bulk of that increase would go toward safety and security, and the bill makes it clear that lawmakers are worried about the prospect of another Jan. 6-style attack on Capitol Hill.
For example, more than half of the increase for Congress would go to the Architect of the Capitol, which maintains buildings on the Capitol complex. ‘This funding includes $403 million, an increase of $341 million, for the Capitol Police Buildings, Grounds, and Security to support significant enhancements to the physical security of the Capitol Complex as a result of the security recommendations made after the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol,’ according to a Senate summary of the bill.
The U.S. Capitol Police would get a 21% increase, to $734.5 million.
‘Based on a significant increase in threats made against Members of Congress, the bill provides $9.5 million to enhance the investigative and protection ability of the Department, in order to protect the legislative process and to provide the ability of Members of Congress to carry out their constitutional responsibilities in a safe environment,’ the bill summary says. ‘The bill continues $2 million to provide off-campus security for Members in response to evolving and growing threats.’
Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the legislative branch, said a key aim of the bill is to ‘protect the Capitol complex’ and its workers, and to ‘keep visitors safe.’
As of Thursday morning, it wasn’t entirely clear that the giant spending bill would pass this week. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, was seeking to add an amendment to the bill that would keep in place a Trump-era policy under which millions of migrants have been turned away at the border because of concerns about spreading COVID-19.
When it became clear that amendment could pass, Democrats froze the process and were looking for ways to avoid that vote.
On Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced a series of votes on amendments that he said reflected an agreement that should allow the Senate to pass the bill Thursday.
Senate passage on Thursday should allow the House to approve it by Friday. Congress is rushing to get the bill done to avoid a partial government shutdown after Friday, when a temporary spending bill expires.