Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill

A small group of progressives known as the “squad” came close to sinking the House Democrats’ Capitol security spending bill on Thursday over concerns about Capitol Police accountability.

Democratic Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarProgressives camp outside Capitol to protest evictions Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (Minn.) and Ayanna PressleyAyanna PressleyProgressives camp outside Capitol to protest evictions Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans On The Money: Schumer, Warren call on Biden to extend student loan pause | IMF estimates 6 percent global growth this year MORE (Mass.) all voted “no,” while Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez: 'More than enough' votes to prevent infrastructure from passing without reconciliation bill Manchin: 'I can't really guarantee anybody' reconciliation package will pass Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE (N.Y.), Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators House passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay Omar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy MORE (Mich.) and Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.) voted “present.”

Their opposition created a dramatic scene on the House floor leading up to the vote, as Democratic leaders scrambled to secure the necessary support and prevent an embarrassing loss on a high-profile proposal to address the security failures of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Every Republican opposed the measure, leaving little room for error. 

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Voting “present” allowed those three Democrats to express their frustrations without actually tanking the legislation. If all six of the Democratic defectors had voted “no” with all Republicans, then the bill would have failed.

In the end, Democratic leaders secured passage only narrowly in the nail-biter 213-212 vote with the three “present” votes.  

The near-miss offered the latest example of the challenges Democrats face with a historically tight House majority, in which they currently hold only 219 seats over Republicans’ 211, with five seats vacant.

House Democratic leaders held open a procedural vote right before the final passage of the security funding bill for more than an hour as they tamped down the last-minute progressive protest.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Ocasio-Cortez: Democrats can't blame GOP for end of eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) and other House Democratic leaders could be seen intensely huddling on the House floor with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauroRosa DeLauroHouse adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban House clears .1 billion Capitol security bill, sending to Biden House passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fight MORE (D-Conn.) and the progressive lawmakers threatening to vote against the bill.

Bowman said that he was “concerned about adding additional funding to a police budget that's already very large and bloated.”

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“But I always wanted to support the cleaners and the custodial staff who throughout this process have been sort of ignored, and not a part of the conversation. What about their mental health? What about their hazard pay? What about just ensuring that they are safe as they come to work, to and from work? Not from a police perspective, but from a psychological security perspective,” Bowman said.

Bowman denied that the progressives received concessions from leadership in exchange for only voting “present” so that their opposition didn’t tank the bill.

“We were in communication with each other and leadership throughout the day. And I didn't decide on what I was going to do until I actually did it,” Bowman said.

Black Lives Matter activists praised the progressive lawmakers for their opposition after the vote.

“The attacks on January 6th were a symbol of white supremacy. We don't respond to white supremacy by giving more money to the police. Period,” they wrote in a tweet.

But a number of Democratic lawmakers, even some liberals, were frustrated as they left the chamber, criticizing the “squad” members for waiting until the last moment to air their grievances. 

"That kind of gotcha thing does not help," one liberal Democrat said. “I don't know what their argument was, but it was not a very good one."

The spending bill includes about $44 million for the Capitol Police, including funding for overtime pay, training, bolstering its intelligence division, new equipment and trauma support for officers. 

The legislation further includes $200 million for a "quick reaction force" within the D.C. National Guard to help support the Capitol Police in emergencies. Republicans opposed the bill in part over concerns about the new National Guard force, with Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerHouse passes sprawling spending bill ahead of fall shutdown fight Funding fight imperils National Guard ops Lobbying world MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, saying it raises "serious concerns about the role of our military on American soil."

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Another $40 million would be allotted for repairing physical damage to the Capitol some of which is still visible more than four months later and another $529 million toward upgrading the building's security, including funds to harden doors and windows and expand screening areas. 

Rep. Pramila JayapalPramila JayapalSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Angst grips America's most liberal city Congress must lower the Medicare Age to save the lives of older Americans MORE (D-Wash.), who heads the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said she was never considering an opposition vote herself, but she defended the liberals who went that route, saying they not only voted their consciences, but also highlighted important concerns that Democrats will have to address going forward.   

"I think they were really voting based on what they thought was right,” Jayapal said. “The sooner we know those issues, both from leadership and from our members, the more effective we'll be able to be at getting to a resolution."

Rep. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyDemocrats repeal prohibition on funding abortions abroad Nearly 140 Democrats urge EPA to 'promptly' allow California to set its own vehicle pollution standards Omar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy MORE (D-Ill.), another staunch liberal, also predicted that Democrats are not done grappling with the issues of law enforcement, race and the thorny intersection of the two.

"This is going to be an ongoing issue, the disparate treatment of people on Jan. 6 and the Black Lives Matte [protesters]. There's no question about it,” Schakowsky said. “I guess the word is reckon these days. It's a reckoning.”

Ironically, Democrats were given cover on Thursday by Republicans, who voted unanimously against the emergency security funding, which left them essentially powerless to go after members of the squad for doing the same.  

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“We have the Republicans who are largely voting 'no,' and even standing on the floor and saying that this was some normal — on Jan. 6, that this was some normal visit,” Schakowsky said. “They're just being so divisive on things that ought to be absolutely bipartisan." 

Rep. Jamie RaskinJamin (Jamie) Ben RaskinHouse at war over Jan. 6 inquiry, mask mandate GOP Rep. Clyde defends 'normal tourist visit' comparison for Jan. 6 Five takeaways from a bracing day of Jan. 6 testimony MORE (D-Md.), the lead prosecutor in former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE's second impeachment trial after the Jan. 6 insurrection, was among the Democrats working the floor to count the votes on Thursday.

He said the internal frictions over police funding were exacerbated by the uncertainty surrounding a separate bill to create an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. While that proposal passed the House on Wednesday, GOP opposition in the Senate has dimmed its prospects of becoming law. 

"The strong point people were making is that the commission hasn't met yet so we don't know completely what the security requirements are going to be,” Raskin said. “On the other hand, we have a security emergency that we need to respond to. We both need to pay for what happened on Jan. 6 and install a whole bunch of changes now just to make ourselves safe. So I think that that was the awkwardness of it."

The Democratic divisions on display were a reversal of roles from the day before, when 35 Republicans broke with their leadership to support legislation that would establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. 

Most Republicans joined with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthySunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy McCarthy jokes it'll be hard not to 'hit' Pelosi with gavel if he is Speaker MORE (R-Calif.), who argued the commission should expand its scope to review other instances of political violence in a move that would reduce the focus on Trump. 

Those 35 Republicans included the 10 who voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6: Reps. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyGosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy Photos of the Week: Olympic sabre semi-finals, COVID-19 vigil and a loris MORE (Wyo.), Anthony GonzalezAnthony GonzalezSix takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Pro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Governors' races see flood of pro-Trump candidates MORE (Ohio), Jaime Herrera BeutlerJaime Lynn Herrera BeutlerHouse passes spending bill to boost Capitol Police and Hill staffer pay Latina lawmakers discuss efforts to increase representation The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Officers recount the horror of Jan. 6 MORE (Wash.), John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoGOP brawls over Trump on eve of first Jan. 6 hearing Senators introduce bipartisan bill to secure critical groups against hackers House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role MORE (N.Y.), Adam KinzingerAdam Daniel KinzingerSunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate A new kind of hero? Last week's emotional TV may be a sign Kinzinger supports Jan. 6 panel subpoenas for Republicans, including McCarthy MORE (Ill.), Peter MeijerPeter MeijerFormer longtime Sen. Carl Levin dies at 87 Michigan GOP executive director quits under pressure from Trump allies Cheney, Kinzinger are sole GOP votes for Jan. 6 select committee MORE (Mich.), Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Cheney, Kinzinger are sole GOP votes for Jan. 6 select committee Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE (Wash.), Tom RiceHugh (Tom) Thompson RicePro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Cheney, Kinzinger are sole GOP votes for Jan. 6 select committee The Hill's Morning Report - Biden-Putin meeting to dominate the week MORE (S.C.), Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonEquilibrium/ Sustainability — Presented by NextEra Energy — West Coast wildfires drive East Coast air quality alerts OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Western wildfires prompt evacuations in California, Oregon| House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Granholm announces new building energy codes House passes bill requiring EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water MORE (Mich.) and David ValadaoDavid Goncalves ValadaoPro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Cheney, Kinzinger are sole GOP votes for Jan. 6 select committee Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE (Calif.).

Katko, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, also co-authored the Jan. 6 commission legislation.