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Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) attend a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol on March 11, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

'January 6 Was Not Due to a Lack of Police Funding': Squad Members Reject Capital Hill Security Bill

Reps. Cori Bush, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley refused to vote for "more money for a broken system that has long upheld and protected the white supremacist violence we saw on display that day."

Julia Conley

U.S. House Democrats barely passed a $1.9 billion bill to fund security measures on Capitol Hill Thursday after progressive lawmakers objected to the premise of the legislation: that the Capitol Police and other security personnel need additional funding to better protect federal buildings in the wake of the January 6 insurrection.

The Emergency Security Supplemental, which was passed in a 213-212 vote, includes $43.9 million for the Capitol Police, $520.9 million to the National Guard, and $250 million for security improvements on the Capitol grounds.

"Instead of responding to crises with calls for more police, our response must be much more holistic. I do not support adding additional funding to already bloated police budgets."
—Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.)

Progressives including Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) said a full accounting is needed of how hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump and white supremacists were able to break into the Capitol on January 6 as lawmakers voted to certify the 2020 election results—including whether Capitol Police officers were "complicit" in the attack.

Bowman, who voted "present" on the package," said in a statement that the insurrection happened "not due to lack of police funding" but "because the threat of white supremacy has been enabled to spread and fester throughout our nation—including within law enforcement."

"That is something that still needs to be addressed by Congress and investigated thoroughly," the congressman said, adding that "pouring billions more into policing" will not accomplish the goal of understanding whether some officers helped enable the attackers.

"Instead of responding to crises with calls for more police, our response must be much more holistic," Bowman continued. "I do not support adding additional funding to already bloated police budgets."

As Common Dreams reported in April, an internal agency investigation of the Capitol Police revealed that leaders of the agency ignored critical intelligence ahead of the mob attack, which killed five people. Some officers were also filmed reacting in a friendly manner to the January 6 attackers.  

Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) joined Bowman in voting "present" on the emergency supplemental package, while Bush, Omar, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) all voted "no" on the legislation.

Amira Hassan, political director for Justice Democrats, applauded Bush, Omar, and Pressley for "standing on principle."

The Capitol Police is one of the best-funded law enforcement agencies in the U.S., with a budget last year of $516 million—up 11% from $462 million the previous year. 

Omar told Politico Thursday that she was "frankly tired of any time where there is a failure in our system of policing, the first response is for us to give them more money."

The congresswoman said she witnessed "police preparedness and procedures and the lack of political will" to stop the mob during the insurrection. 

"It is not clear to me how the supplemental addresses that," she told Politico.

Omar, Pressley, and Bush also said in a joint statement that the bill did not provide sufficient funding for counseling services for the Capitol Police and federal employees who were at the Capitol on January 6.

"The bill also does far too little to address the unspeakable trauma of the countless officers, staff, and support workers who were on site that day—dedicating 50 times more money to the creation of a 'quick reaction force' than it does to counseling," said the lawmakers. "We cannot support this increased funding while many of our communities continue to face police brutality while marching in the streets, and while questions about the disparate response between insurrectionists and those protesting in defense of Black lives go unanswered."

The security supplemental includes $4.4 million for wellness and trauma support compared to $31.1 million for salaries and bonuses.

By pouring more money into the agency responsible for policing Capitol Hill, Bush, Omar, and Pressley said, Congress is prioritizing "more money for a broken system that has long upheld and protected the white supremacist violence we saw on display that day."

"There must be a comprehensive investigation and response to the attack on our Capitol and our democracy, one that addresses the root cause of the insurrection: white supremacy," they said. "We look forward to working towards systemic policy solutions that meet the scale and scope of the crises our communities and our nation face."

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