Washington — The newly releasedto avert a government shutdown and continue funding the government through late 2023 includes several provisions to bolster security and prevent attacks against members of Congress. The bill also tucks away money to help respond to the crushing caseload of more than 930 Jan. 6 prosecutions.
The legislation, which spans 4,155 pages, includes direction to the Senate Sergeant at Arms to create a “residential security system program” to protect senators in their home states and towns. According to the legislation, “The program is focused on assisting in mitigating increased risks to the physical security of senators’ residences both in the District of Columbia and in their home states. The agreement provides a total of $2,500,000 to be available until expended for the development and administration of a residential security system program.” There’s been growing concern about the well-being of senators and House members when they’re outside the dome of security of U.S. Capitol Police on the Capitol grounds.
The spending bill also includes million of dollars to bolster House member security, including what appears to be a response to theagainst House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi in California.
The legislation requires the U.S. House and Capitol Police to “enhance member protection including providing a security program for Congressional Leadership, expanding Dignitary Protection Division services and expanding USCP field office presence,” which would deploy and broaden Capitol Police protection in cities outside of Washington.
Congressional staffers told CBS News there’s also a pressing need to increase protection for members of Congress who travel through the Washington, D.C.-area, including Virginia and Maryland, while outside of the protection of U.S. Capitol Police. In 2017, a gunman went on a shooting spree at a baseball practice in Virginia that wounded House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
The omnibus spending bill also requires Congress to produce a report reviewing the performance of contract security officers who have been deployed to assist Capitol Police. According to the legislation, the report “should be placed in the respective House and Senate security offices for viewing by authorized representatives of the committees” and should include details about positioning of contract security staff and benefits of the program.
GOP Rep. Barry Loudermilk of Georgia told CBS News he will consider offering plans to expand the use of private security to supplement Capitol Police, including through the manning of magnetometers on Capitol grounds, when Republicans take control of the House and its committees in January. The Capitol Police union has opposed such a change.
The section of the spending bill which funds the Justice Department also bolsters funding for federal prosecutors, who are navigating an overwhelming load of Capitol riot prosecutions.
The legislation said, “The agreement provides increases for heightened prosecution workload arising from the U.S. Capitol attack and domestic terrorism cases.”
A review by CBS News found more than 930 defendants have been charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection, with hundreds more arrests expected. The tonnage of cases, which are being prosecuted in the District of Columbia, are taxing the resources of prosecutors and federal defenders.