Politics Top Democrat: Bill to boost Capitol security likely to advance this month
President Biden's first address to Congress is invite-only
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden's first address to Congress is an invite-only affair, no guests allowed. The restrictions for Wednesday's event are due to COVID-19 safety protocols, but will have the added security benefit of a limited number of people inside the Capitol for the president's first major indoor event since he took office just weeks after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Fencing is still up around the U.S. Capitol, and the National Guard is still there. (AP Photo/J.
House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said Thursday that she is hopeful a bill to boost security at the Capitol will be introduced shortly before advancing the measure in the "next couple of weeks."
DeLauro said Democrats have held talks with Republicans in crafting the legislation, adding that the supplemental spending bill would focus narrowly on fixing security flaws exposed by the Jan. 6 attacks.
"Supplementals can become Christmas trees, and that, we're not going to do," she said at an event hosted by the Brookings Institution. "We are trying to avoid that like the plague."
Biden to deliver presidential address amid heightened security
His speech comes just months after the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. "Heightened security at the U.S. Capitol in advance of President Biden's remarks to the joint session ... underscores the ongoing threat from far-right extremists in the United States now more than three months after the insurrection on 6 January," Javed Ali, the former counterterrorism director on the National Security Council, told ABC News.
The timeline laid out by DeLauro is similar to the one House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) put forward in April.
Democrats are likely to huddle on the supplemental spending bill Monday before unveiling the legislation and sending it to the House Rules Committee for floor consideration.
The measure will deal with issues relating to the Capitol Police and its preparedness, beefing up the Capitol complex and providing members of Congress additional security.
Since the January insurrection, in which a mob of Trump supporters sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election, Congress has been conducting investigations and holding hearings focused on the massive security breach.
The supplemental spending bill will including funding for new training, equipment and intelligence operations based on the findings of those probes and hearings. It will also provide funds for hardening windows and doors and potentially fencing, an increasingly controversial topic.
One option under consideration is a retractable fence, which could easily be raised during emergencies or times of higher security alerts.
"What we want to do is maintain a balance between accessibility to the Capitol and safety," DeLauro said Thursday.
Further security funding could be included in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill for 2022.
DeLauro also said the regular appropriations committee and subcommittee markups for the 2022 fiscal year would take place in June, with floor passage in the House expected in July.
Capitol Police watchdog back in spotlight amid security concerns .
The Capitol Police’s failure to prepare for the Jan. 6 insurrection will be back in the spotlight this week when its inspector general testifies before lawmakers about his latest findings, all while the House aims to consider a supplemental funding bill for Capitol security this month. © Greg Nash U.S. Capitol Police Capitol Police inspector general Michael Bolton is set to testify before the House Administration Committee on Monday afternoon about the police force's threat assessment and counter-surveillance operations before and after the Jan. 6 attack.