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House passes $2 billion Capitol security bill in response to insurrection, clearing it for Biden’s signature

<i>Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images</i><br/>The Senate voted to approve a roughly $2 billion Capitol Hill security spending bill in response to the deadly January 6 insurrection.
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Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
The Senate voted to approve a roughly $2 billion Capitol Hill security spending bill in response to the deadly January 6 insurrection.

By Clare Foran, Jeremy Herb and Annie Grayer, CNN

The House voted 416 to 11 on Thursday to approve a roughly $2 billion Capitol Hill security spending bill in response to the deadly January 6 insurrection, clearing the measure for President Joe Biden’s signature.

The House vote came shortly after the Senate voted unanimously to pass the measure by a tally of 98-0.

The security supplemental funding bill will provide funding for the Capitol Police, the National Guard and other law enforcement partners to cover costs incurred during the insurrection. The legislation would help ensure the Capitol is protected in the future by paying for security upgrades at the Capitol complex. Funding is also set aside for expenses related to Covid-19 response at the Capitol and several other priorities.

The House of Representatives passed a $1.9 billion security spending bill in response to the January 6 attack in May. But since the Senate deal is a separate and new piece of legislation, the House needed to take it up and pass that measure before it could be sent to the President.

Six House Democrats and five Republicans voted no on the bill on Thursday. The Democrats who voted against the measure were Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Cori Bush of Missouri. The Republicans who voted against it were Reps. Chip Roy of Texas, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Bob Good of Virginia, Tom McClintock of California and Ralph Norman of South Carolina.

Bowman told CNN that he voted against the bill because he didn’t feel like he had enough time to review what was in it.

“We just got the bill text like a half an hour ago. Absolutely no time to read it, no time to understand it, no time to digest it, so that’s reason number one,” Bowman said.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the Senate Appropriations Committee chairman, and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican member on that panel, announced the agreement Tuesday, the same day that four officers who were on the front lines of the insurrection testified about the horrific violence they had faced that day during a hearing convened by the House select committee investigating the attack.

The bill will provide $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for the cost of deployment to Capitol Hill and roughly $70 million to the Capitol Police to cover expenses incurred in response to the attack, according to a fact sheet released by Leahy’s office. An additional $300 million will be used to bolster safeguards for the Capitol complex, including funds for window and door upgrades and the installation of new security cameras.

In a sign of the bipartisan support behind the agreement, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the deal earlier in the week.

“I applaud the bipartisan work from our colleagues,” McConnell said. “I’m sure neither side finds the compromise perfect, but I believe that both sides should and will agree that it is absolutely necessary.”

Leahy told reporters that the final agreement wasn’t everything that he or Shelby wanted, but the deal was a product of quiet negotiations.

“Fortunately, the way we did it was not a whole lot of speeches and histrionics in the floor and press conferences. We met quietly,” Leahy said, noting his office near the Senate floor was a “very useful” place to meet.

To cover the cost of the Covid-19 response at the Capitol, $42.1 million will be provided, including $800,000 to reimburse the Capitol Police for expenses such as the use of personal protective equipment during the pandemic.

According to the fact sheet, the legislation will also provide humanitarian assistance for Afghan refugees, including $600 million to the Department of State “for refugee and migration assistance and to improve and strengthen the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program.”

The bill makes specific changes to the visa program, including increasing the number of authorized visas by 8,000 and lowering an employment eligibility requirement from two years to one.

Shelby told reporters that the negotiations had “a few tense moments, like everybody,” but ultimately the senators were able to successfully put together funding for Capitol Police and the National Guard with the funding to help with the evacuation of Afghan translators and other personnel who worked with the US military.

“We tried to create critical mass,” Shelby said of getting Republicans on board with the package.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Thursday.

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