Madam Speaker, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 3237 – a bill to provide funding for Capitol security and other purposes.
Unfortunately, after several weeks of discussions, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have chosen the path of partisanship instead of working together, and I want to explain how we ended up in this situation.
In January, the Speaker of the House directed a retired lieutenant general and his team to review security needs on the House side of the Capitol following the events of January 6th. This review was directed without even consulting House Republicans or the Senate.
Even though the review by General Honore began as a partisan effort, Members of the Appropriations Committee hoped things could get back on track and we could negotiate a funding agreement that could be supported by both parties in both chambers.
That is why it is so disappointing that we are now left with the bill before us. This is a one-sided solution that does not even have buy-in from Democrats in the Senate.
The bill we are considering today:
- Implements permanent recommendations before ongoing security assessments are complete;
- Creates a multi-million dollar fund for future expenses at the Capitol, prior to knowing what is really needed; and
- Delays much-needed reimbursements for agencies that have protected the Capitol since January 6th, such as the National Guard and Capitol Police.
It also provides $200 million to establish a force within the D.C. National Guard to respond to incidents at the Capitol, raising serious concerns about the role of our military on American soil.
Some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have also raised concerns about using the National Guard in this way.
The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, has said that it is important for the Capitol to remain open and accessible to the public and not feel like a militarized zone. I agree with him.
Matters of such importance like this should be handled in the proper way – marked up in the Appropriations and authorizing committees so that Members’ positions can be fully considered.
And, at the very least, amendments to this bill should have been allowed on the House floor today. Unfortunately, Members on both sides of the aisle have been shut out.
Madam Speaker, the events of January 6th were tragic and exposed serious security vulnerabilities around the Capitol complex, as well as an inability to properly respond and act when intelligence is provided.
Congress must prevent anything like this from ever happening again, but the bill before us today is not the solution.
There is no reason why we cannot continue discussing in good faith and reach a bipartisan compromise.
For this reason, I must urge my colleagues to vote no on this package. I hope we can get back to the negotiating table soon.
Thank you, and I reserve the balance of my time.
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