(CNN)With time running out, Republicans and Democrats remain at odds over how to move forward on a funding package designed to improve security on Capitol Hill and fill a massive funding gap for Capitol Police and the National Guard that was created in the wake of the January 6 insurrection.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, is pushing a $3.7 billion proposal that would fill the funding gap and also would provide funding to harden the Capitol’s physical infrastructure and for security enhancements at federal courts. On the Senate floor Monday, Leahy argued that these security enhancements are just as immediate a need as funding the Capitol Police and National Guard.
“The Capitol and its office buildings are not impenetrable. It’s not a fortress. The windows can be broken. The doors can be breached,” Leahy said. “This complex is no longer shrouded with the protection of belief that is not possible to storm these halls. Much like the windows, that protection was shattered and it was broadcast to the whole world on January 6.”
But Republicans argue that Leahy’s bill is also filled with pet funding projects that have nothing to do with Capitol security. Among them, funding for Afghans seeking special visas to escape the country as the US military leaves and a wide range of funding for federal agencies to help implement Covid safety protocols.
In an interview with CNN, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the vice chairman of the Appropriations panel, argued that this funding package should focus only on the most pressing needs of Capitol security.
“We are far apart. Sen. Leahy’s bill was $3 billion. The bill I introduced was less than a billion dollars,” Shelby said. “We want to fund the police, we want to fund the National Guard and their need now. They claim that’s what they want to do but they have a lot of extraneous things in there, which we’re not going to support. It’s not going anywhere.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed back on Republican claims th
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