National Guard training and maintenance operations are in danger over a stalemate in Congress on Capitol security funding legislation.
The Guard’s deployment to the Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection left it with a $521 million bill that, absent new funding from Congress, it has had to pay out of its existing budget.
That means, officials are warning, the Guard will have to nix weekend drills, annual training and planned maintenance in August and September.
Already, processes are in motion that could lead to those events being canceled as lawmakers struggle to find a way forward on legislation that would reimburse the Guard.
“The sooner Congress acts, the better,” said John Goheen, a spokesperson for the National Guard Association of the United States. “Yesterday would not be soon enough because the wheels are already turning.”
“Many states have already gone through the process of looking at how much money they’re down and then, what they have to cancel,” he added. “And they’ll have to make a choice between what they absolutely have to do and what they really should be doing.”
There is broad bipartisan support to pay back the Guard for reinforcing Capitol security for nearly five months after supporters of former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer surgeon general says CDC guidance on masks ‘premature’ and ‘wrong’ Biden calls on Congress to pass voting rights bills on anniversary of John Lewis’s death Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats MORE attacked the building in January.
At the height of the deployment, the nation’s capital teemed with nearly 26,000 Guardsmen from every state and territory.
But the issue of reimbursing the Guard has been bogged down by disagreements over what else should be included in a Capitol security bill.
In May, the House approved a $1.9 billion bill that included money for the Guard as well as other funds to “harden” Capitol security.
But that bill was seen as a nonstarter by Senate Republicans, and there was little movement in the upper chamber on the issue until this past week.
On Monday, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyNumber of nonwhite Democratic Senate staffers ticks up from 2020 The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Goldman Sachs – Biden backs Cuban protesters, assails ‘authoritarian regime’ Obstacles mount amid Capitol Police funding fight MORE (D-Vt.) and ranking member Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySchumer, Tim Scott lead as Senate fundraising pace heats up Pro-impeachment Republicans outpace GOP rivals in second-quarter fundraising Overnight Defense: 6B Pentagon spending bill advances | Navy secretary nominee glides through hearing | Obstacles mount in Capitol security funding fight MORE (R-Ala.) unveiled competing proposals for a Capitol security bill.
The Republican offer would provide about $632 million, including the Guard funding as well as roughly $97 million for the Capitol Police and $15 million for the Architect of the Capitol.
The $3.7 billion Democratic proposal also included National Guard and Capitol Police funding, but also goes broader to include visas for Afghans who helped the U.S. military, coronavirus-related funds, money to fund the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6 attack and money to fortify the Capitol complex. Republicans quickly balked at the Democratic offer.
Leahy then made another offer, which also included the $521 million for the Guard, his spokesperson confirmed to The Hill. The negotiations “remain ongoing,” the spokesperson added.
Asked for Shelby’s reaction to Leahy’s latest offer, a GOP aide said he “believes we should address our immediate needs now — funding for the National Guard and Capitol Police.”
But, potentially removing one obstacle, Shelby is also “willing to address the Afghan issue at this time,” the aide added.
House Republicans, meanwhile, are demanding the lower chamber take up another “clean” bill to reimburse the Guard.
“We must come together and pass a clean supplemental to ensure the National Guard, which remained unnecessarily at the Capitol with your support, has the funds needed to train for and fulfill their mission,” House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mike Roger (R-Ala.) wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiWhere is ‘President Andrew Shepherd’ when we need him? Trump says Barr ‘never’ told him he thought he’d lose election A failure to act on climate is not an option MORE (D-Calif.) on Monday calling on her to cancel August recess until Guard funding is approved.
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