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The progressive Squad nearly sunk a Capitol security bill Thursday backed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over their objections to funding a “broken” policing system and ignoring the root cause of the Jan. 6 riot which they say is “White supremacy.”
The House barely passed the $1.9 billion supplemental budget for additional security funds during a heated vote that forced leadership to swarm the floor to whip votes. The final vote was 213-212 and illustrates the perils of the very narrow majority Democrats have in the House where just a few defections can kill a bill.
Three progressives joined with all Republicans in voting “no” against the bill: Reps. Cori Bush of Missouri, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. And in an apparent compromise to avoid the bill from completely failing, three other Squad members voted “present” rather than no: Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Jamaal Bowman of New York.
“[T]here 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,” Bush, Omar and Pressley said in a joint statement Thursday. “This bill prioritizes more money for a broken system that has long upheld and protected the white supremacist violence we saw on display that day.”
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) attends The National Council for Incarcerated Women and Girls "100 Women for 100 Women" rally in Black Lives Matter Plaza near The White House on March 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. The organization and its supporters are urging President Joe Biden to release 100 women currently incarcerated in federal prison. Bush voted "no" on May 20, 2021, against $1.9 billion in additional funding for Capitol security. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)
As Democrats were trying to avoid disarray and pass the legislation, Republicans meanwhile contended some of their members were still trying to vote when the Democrats gaveled down the vote as completed. With just a one-vote margin in the balance, Republicans had it out with floor staff with how the vote went down.
The $1.9 billion funding legislation was a direct response to the Jan. 6 attacks and would boost funding for U.S. Capitol Police, the National Guard and Washington, D.C., and reimburse for costs incurred during the riot and subsequent security response. The legislation would also fund an additional “Quick Reaction Force” to support the police in cases of an emergency and fund additional security improvements for members of Congress and the Capitol complex.
Members of the progressive Squad raised concerns about the $1.9 billion Capitol security funding.
Pelosi on Thursday called the emergency legislation “urgent” and necessary to protect the members, staff and visitors on the Capitol grounds. She said the funding request was the result of a careful security review led by retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré.
“We can’t wait until we know every answer before we start with the solutions that we are well aware of and that we know of,” Pelosi said.
But progressives, however, had a problem pumping more money into policing while not doing enough to acknowledge the “disparate response” between the Jan. 6 rioters and Black Lives Matter protesters marching against police brutality.
“A bill that pours $1.9 billion into increased police surveillance and force without addressing the underlying threats of organized and violent white supremacy, radicalization, and disinformation that led to this attack will not prevent it from happening again,” Bush, Omar and Pressley said in the joint statement. “Increasing law enforcement funds does not inherently protect or safeguard the Capitol Hill or surrounding D.C. community.”
Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
The lawmakers raised objections to spending just $4.4 million on wellness and trauma counseling from the Jan. 6 attack while pumping $200 million into the Quick Reaction Force. They said they won’t back more funding for police while, back home, their communities are still dealing with police brutality.
“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 lawmakers wrote.
The $1.9 billion in security funds now heads to the Senate where its fate is unclear along with a bipartisan measure that passed Wednesday to form an independent 9/11-style commission to investigate the origins of the Jan. 6 attack.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report.
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