Chair DeLauro Statement at Security of the Capitol Campus since the Attack of January 6, 2021 Hearing
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on Security of the Capitol Campus since the Attack of January 6, 2021:
Thank you for the hearing this morning. I want to say a thank you to our guests, General Walker, Chief of Police Manger, and Mr. Blanton, for testifying today.
On January 6, 2021, our nation gazed into the abyss – and understood more fully than ever before that democracy, and our democracy, is fragile. A year later, it is still difficult to comprehend the gravity of this attack on our democracy. And I will never forget that amid this insurrection, Capitol Police told us to “hit the floor” and “grab the gas masks under [our] seats” – as the mob headed for the House chamber.
Because of these brave women and men, our democracy proved its resilience: our institutions withstood the threat and we overcame the chaos. In recognition of their sacrifice and to uphold our responsibility to protect the Republic, this Committee passed into law almost a billion dollars to fund the Capitol Police and secure the United States Capitol – the citadel of democracy.
With funding provided in the security supplemental, the Capitol Police have made changes over the past year in five critical areas: training, equipment and personnel, operational planning, the Civil Disturbance Unit, and intelligence and incident command.
But they still need our help. One year after the horrors of that day the Capitol Police are still recovering. While their physical wounds may have healed, there is still so much more they will need to rebuild.
Over the past year, 135 Capitol Police officers have retired or resigned, leaving the force dangerously depleted. Those serious manpower challenges have also made it harder to take officers away from their posts for the training they need.
For instance, I have heard directly from officers that they need more and more frequent trainings. I heard from one on January 6 about training in the Capitol itself, and that we haven’t done anything like that by way of training since 2007. So especially within the Capitol. We also know that the Capitol Police itself has identified the need for more training staff and a larger training facility that could better accommodate the force’s size and mission.
I also understand that, while progress has been made, there continue to be concerns about the adequacy of equipment for officers to protect themselves and this institution. And I hope we can discuss that today.
Finally, my colleagues and I have continuing concerns about security for Members and our office staff in our districts. That came up over and over again from Members about the sense of their security and the security of their families in the districts. And while the House included in the House proposal in the security supplemental, there was funding for member security in their districts as well, that funding was – outrageously, in my view – stripped in the U.S. Senate. The number of potential threats has only grown, so sooner or later we will have to address this issue. And we want to hear your perspective on that matter.
While we have already passed the security supplemental, we can continue to provide funding and oversight through this Subcommittee’s efforts. We have voted in this Committee to increase funding by $88.4 million. But this is being held up as my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are refusing to negotiate appropriations bills.
That intransigence is keeping the Capitol Police stuck at last year’s funding levels and denying these heroes the resources they need to keep the Capitol and all who work and visit here safe.
As the Architect of the Capitol Mr. Blanton put in his testimony, “delayed funding for projects has consequences.”
It is time for Republicans to work with Democrats on government funding legislation that supports the brave women and men of the Capitol Police. We need to honor their sacrifice by providing the certainty that comes with sufficient annual funding.
We need to have this conference process begin and I hope that we can use the insight from this hearing to shape the final legislation.
We want to hear from you, our witnesses: What do you need? How can we help? What reforms, including to the Capitol Police Board, must happen?
By having these discussions, we can continue the long process of helping our community to heal, and by doing so we can keep on moving forwards, persisting in our quest to build a “more perfect union.”
With that, I thank Chairman Ryan and Ranking Member Herrera Beutler and I yield back.