May 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Progressives Dems vote against Capitol security funding to protest policing

Reps. Ayanna Pressley, , Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar during a press conference in July 2019.
Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar during a press conference in July 2019. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Multiple progressive House Democrats voted against a $1.9 billion bill to increase security at the U.S. Capitol in response to the deadly Jan. 6 riot over policing concerns.

Why it matters: Because of the defections, Democrats only narrowly passed the spending bill, demonstrating their tenuous majority in the chamber.

How they voted: Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) voted against the bill.

  • Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) voted present.

What they're saying: "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 a joint statement after the vote.

  • "Increasing law enforcement funds does not inherently protect or safeguard the Capitol Hill or surrounding D.C. community," they added.
  • "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."

Bowman said in a statement the riot happened "because the threat of white supremacy has been enabled to spread and fester throughout our nation — including within law enforcement. That is something that still needs to be addressed by Congress and investigated thoroughly."

  • "Instead of responding to crises with calls for more police, our response must be much more holistic. I do not support adding additional funding to already bloated police budgets," he added.

The big picture: The bill gives Capitol Police $43.9 million, $520.9 million to the National Guard and $250 million for Capitol grounds security improvements.

  • Most Democrats have argued that the upgrades funded by the legislation are needed to patch the security shortcomings exploited by the pro-Trump mob on the day of the riot.
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