A $ 1.9 billion emergency funding bill to increase security in the U.S. Capitol following the January 6 uprising was barely passed on Thursday. The move, which would provide added personal security to lawmakers facing an increasing wave of threats and harassment in Washington and its home districts, received no Republican support and covered rifts within the Democratic Party over the issue of increasing funding for Police forces on.
The law was finally passed on Thursday after last-minute negotiations led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with 213 votes in favor and 212 against.
Every eligible Republican voted no to the bill, claiming it was too much money and there was no guarantee that it would be properly spent to improve safety. These votes followed recent statements that downplayed, or outright fabricated, facts about the violence that took place at the Capitol on January 6th.
More notably, the Democrats were not united among themselves. Left-wing members of the House, including members of the so-called squad, broke out of the party in what could easily be described as a deliberation against the police.
Democratic representatives Cori Bush (MO), Ilhan Omar (MN) and Ayanna Pressley (MA) voted against the legislation; MPs Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Jamaal Bowman (NY) and Rashida Tlaib (MI) voted in attendance, which means they have not officially taken a position.
The defect is a sign of rifts within the party in how to reflect on police reforms and the use of force. These policies have been a source of intense national debate at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department since the protests that swept the nation to the police force last year after George Floyd's death.
It also appears to be a carefully targeted warning from the squad, showing that when they are united, they have an opportunity to torpedo democratic laws. The Democratic Party relies on a slim majority in the House to pass all of its bills.
Bush, Omar and Pressley released a joint statement saying that the package "puts $ 1.9 billion into increased police surveillance and violence without addressing the underlying threats of organized and violent white supremacy, radicalization and disinformation that led to this attack and will not prevent it again. "
Bowman told reporters he voted in attendance because “there are a few things about the bill that I support, like making sure our supervisors and cleaners have the resources they need to respond to and deal with this trauma cope, but there are other parts of it that I don't endorse like adding more funding to the police budget. "
While the Democrats agreed on most of the major laws in the early months of the Biden administration, this unity cannot apply as more complex and polarizing political issues are at stake and some democratic laws are at risk.
In the meantime, the unified Republican opposition to a law promoting law enforcement bill could once again challenge President Joe Biden's vision of uniting Congress on common values.
January 6th and its aftermath raised serious security issues
Violence and security breaches by pro-Trump rioters attempting to complete certification of election results for 2020 on January 6th have raised big questions about what security in the U.S. Capitol should look like in the future.
Capitol police were unprepared and slow to respond to thousands of demonstrators – some of whom were armed – who stormed the Capitol, destroyed property, sang death threats, searched the halls for lawmakers and successfully completed the confirmation of election results. About 140 officers were injured and several people died. Experts say things could have been a lot worse if lawmakers hadn't narrowly avoided the mob in some close encounters.
The crisis, in turn, has put the Capitol Police under the microscope and created a moral problem in their ranks, which has apparently led to an increase in resignations and retirements among ordinary officials.
Even so, Republican leaders in both the House and Senate downplayed the threat faced by the Capitol Police on Jan. 6. This has helped both exonerate supporters of former President Donald Trump for their role in the violence that day, and backed up arguments for maintaining the security status quo in the Capitol.
At a hearing on Wednesday, a Republican from Georgia said last week that some of the people who broke into the Capitol on January 6 are acting like a "normal tourist" visit to Washington. Another compared the rioters to "a crowd of outsiders". And Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, who appeared on Fox News Wednesday, called the incursion a "peaceful protest."
A majority of Republicans also opposed the formation of an independent commission to investigate the day's events. While 35 House Republicans split with their party on Wednesday to support the investigation, top Republicans, including House Minority Chairman Kevin McCarthy, opposed such an investigation.
This disregard for the dangers congressmen faced on Jan. 6 is due to the increased threats and harassment against lawmakers. Members of Congress report increasing exposure in business and travel, receiving threats to their families, and posting private details of their lives online. Compared to the previous year, the threats against the federal legislature have more than doubled this year.
The nearly $ 2 billion bill passed on Thursday is designed to resolve a variety of issues including: overtime reimbursement, risk payment, and retention bonuses; better equipment and training; a "new quick-reacting team that would essentially create a standing force of the DC National Guard," said Politico; Fortification of the Capitol complex with movable fences, surveillance equipment and reinforced windows and doors; and added security for lawmakers who have been threatened and are usually not eligible for publicly funded security.
The squad is reluctant to increase police funding without reform
Without Republican support, the Democrats barely passed the spending package. Pelosi and other top dems had to struggle to allay squad concerns over the bill, which Politico said included considerations of allocating more money to a Capitol police force, with some officers indirectly contributing to the violence of the day through lax enforcement .
"I'm tired of the fact that every time our police system fails, the first thing we have to do is to give them more money instead of investigating the shortcomings and holding those responsible to account," Omar agreed The Intercept. "I will continue to fight for structural change that puts people's safety and humanity first. That goes for us here in the Capitol as well as for my constituents in Minneapolis."
The Omar, Bush and Pressley joint statement raised broader concerns about the bill. Here is an important passage:
The increase in law enforcement funds does not inherently protect or protect Capitol Hill or the surrounding DC community. In fact, this bill will be passed before we have a real investigation into the January 6th events and related failures because Republicans persistently obstructed the formation of a January 6th commission.
The bill also does far too little to address the indescribable trauma of the countless civil servants, employees and auxiliaries who were on site that day. It has spent fifty times more money creating a "rapid reaction force" than it has spent on advice. We cannot support this increase in funding while many of our communities continue to face police brutality as they march on the streets and while questions about the different responses between insurgents and protesters in defense of blacks' lives go unanswered.
Ultimately, Pelosi's Democratic caucus came up with the bill they wanted because three members of the squad decided to "vote in" rather than oppose it.
But the entire episode showed how the progressive wing of the House Democrats flexed its muscles as a voting bloc, likely predicting future legislative struggles, whether on criminal justice issues or other major political disagreements.
Pelosi's eleventh hour negotiations to save the bill also suggest that the Democratic Party's leadership, with a slim majority in the House of Representatives, cannot afford to alienate its most progressive members on bogus laws of their own Priorities.
And while the leadership of Biden and the Democratic House appear to be able to satisfy the squad over Biden's coronavirus relief bill and the government's opening game over a massive infrastructure bill, some gaps between the establishment and the squad can be widespread Have consequences. For example, in view of Israel's air strikes on Gaza Some members of the squad passed an unprecedented resolution to block Biden's $ 735 million arms sales to Israel this week. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) made a similar proposal in the Senate.
While these resolutions are unlikely to gain approval, they can encourage others in the party to break away from Biden – as some appeared to be brief on arms sales – and serve as symbols of how the small left bloc in Congress is a thorn an eye might be on the side of the party leadership in the months and years to come.