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Senate Approves Emergency Spending to Secure the Capitol

  • July 29, 2021

“Now,” she said, “we must protect them.”

The passage came days after police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 told an investigative committee in excruciating detail of the horrors they endured when a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. Since the attack, the Capitol Police force has been in a state of crisis, with funding, staffing and operational problems plaguing a deeply demoralized force.

Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, had been warning for weeks that the Capitol Police force was in danger of running out of money and canceling necessary training if Congress did not quickly approve more funding.

“If we do not act, the Capitol Police will deplete salaries funding in a matter of weeks, and the National Guard will be forced to cancel needed training to carry out their mission at home and abroad,” he said on Thursday. “Doing nothing would be a security crisis entirely of our own making.”

The legislation passed after several Republicans who had been holding it up dropped their objections, and the Senate agreed to a proposal by Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, to require the administration to report to Congress on the Afghan special immigrant visa program.

The bill incorporates a measure passed by the House last week that adds 8,000 new visas for Afghans facing death threats from the Taliban for helping American personnel in Afghanistan as U.S. forces withdraw after a 20-year war. The House overwhelmingly approved the measure, which also expedites the application process and allows more Afghans to qualify. It also includes hundreds of millions of dollars for government programs that aid refugees and migrants and resettle them in the United States.

More than 18,000 Afghans who have worked as interpreters, drivers, engineers, security guards, fixers and embassy clerks for the United States during the war have been caught in bureaucratic limbo after applying for special immigrant visas, which are available to people who face threats because of work for the U.S. government.

“We intend to keep our nation’s promises to brave Afghans who have taken great risks to help America and our partners fight the terrorists,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, in floor remarks this week.

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