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Senators Strike Bipartisan Funding Deal For Capitol Security And Afghan Refugees

A new spending deal includes $300 million to upgrade windows and doors at the U.S. Capitol, and to install new cameras.
A new spending deal includes $300 million to upgrade windows and doors at the U.S. Capitol, and to install new cameras.

A bipartisan deal has been struck on a $2.1 billion bill that would boost support for the Capitol complex in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, direct much-needed funds to the U.S. Capitol Police and provide humanitarian support for Afghan refugees.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who serve as chair and vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, respectively, announced the deal Tuesday.

The Jan. 6 riot depleted funds from the police force, and the agreement came the same day two officers from the department testified on Capitol Hill about the attack.

Two weeks ago, Leahy and Shelby had released dramatically different spending plans. Here's a closer look at some of what's in the new supplemental appropriations bill:

Capitol Police

  • $70.7 million for overtime, hazard pay and retention bonuses for current officers; money to hire mental health counselors; and funds for training and new equipment, including riot control gear.
  • $35.4 million for mutual aid agreements with local, state and federal law enforcement for help in securing the Capitol.
  • Capitol Complex

  • $300 million to upgrade windows and doors, and install new security cameras.
  • $42.1 million to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic at the complex, including for enhanced cleaning, personal protective equipment, telework equipment and emergency supplies.
  • $521 million to reimburse the National Guard for deploying to the Capitol in the aftermath of the breach of the building.
  • Aid For Afghans

  • $500 million for the Department of Defense to provide emergency transportation, housing and essential services to Afghan partners leaving the country as U.S. forces leave.
  • $25 million for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide assistance to Afghans granted special immigration status once they have arrived in the United States to assist with resettlement.
  • $600 million for the State Department for refugee and migration assistance, specifically the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program, including $500 million to aid those who served as translators and in other capacities for the U.S. military.
  • "We have the responsibility to take care of the Capitol Police in the wake of their incredible service on January 6th, and to reimburse our National Guard for costs incurred protecting the Capitol," Leahy said in a statement. "And we have the moral responsibility to stand with our Afghan partners who stood with us through two decades of war. This bipartisan agreement addresses these critical needs, and it addresses them now because they cannot wait."

    In his own statement, Shelby said he is "pleased this legislation sticks to immediate security needs."

    "It is essential that we provide the National Guard and Capitol Police the funding they require without further delay," he said.

    The deal was announced hours after the first hearing of the U.S. House select committee charged with investigating the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, where Capitol Police officers and Metropolitan Police officers gave harrowing, emotional testimonies about their experiences the day of the insurrection.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.