House Democrats have introduced a new bill that would provide the District of Columbia Air National Guard with $200 million to create a quick reaction force of service members ready to respond to any violence or threats on Capitol Hill.
The bill, introduced by House Appropriations Committee Chairperson Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) on Friday, addresses a wide range of issues, including funds to improve security around Capitol grounds and specific measures to strengthen safeguards and increase preparedness for legislators, including at their district offices and the US Capitol Police force.
Under a $1.9 billion protection supplemental unveiled by House leaders, the package also contains almost $521 million in unanticipated pay and operations costs for the continuing Guard deployment to defend Congress in the aftermath of the January breach in the Capitol building.
According to a Military Times report, these compensation expenses are almost equal to the amount of money allocated in the bill for potential grounds protection projects across the Capitol complex, such as retractable fencing to keep large crowds from descending on the grounds during possible future demonstrations or events.
DC National Guard spokesperson Capt. Chelsi B. Johnson is quoted in the report as saying USCP have not asked the National Guard to remain past May 23.
"Once the mission concludes, the DC National Guard will return to normal operations and the out-of-state Guard members will return to their home station," she said.
However, a security assessment undertaken earlier this year reportedly proposed the creation of a military quick reaction force in the event that Capitol Police services are insufficient in the future.
“A ground force equivalent of the 113th Wing within the District of Columbia Air National Guard at Joint Base Andrews, which defends National Capital Region airspace" is proposed by the current legislation. According to the report, it is unclear if such a force will be staffed by people who live in the area permanently or by rotations of troops from across the US.
The National Guard's deployment has become more contentious in recent months, with many Republican lawmakers arguing that the force is still deployed across the Capitol in spite of the fact that there have been no credible threats to the campus for months. Large parts of the Capitol Hill area remain fenced off, including several roads, creating headaches for locals and commuters alike.
In a statement accompanying her introduction of the the legislation, DeLauro said that she hopes the supplementary bill will be implemented soon.
"The January 6 insurrection caused tragic loss of life and many injuries, while leaving behind widespread physical damage to the Capitol Complex and emotional trauma for members, congressional employees, and the Capitol Police," she said.
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats intend to put the bill up for a vote on the floor next week, as it is "overdue."
A large crowd, including some of the attendees of the former President Donald Trump rally, stormed the Capitol building on January 6 in an effort to derail the Electoral College votes certification of the November presidential election results. The violence claimed the lives of five people, including one USCP officer and four rioters, one of whom was shot by an officer outside the Senate chamber.