Congress Considers Reforming Capitol Police Board

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Lawmakers investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection are considering changes to the Capitol Police Board, a three-member panel responsible for protecting lawmakers and the building itself that has power over nearly every security decision made under the dome but has changed little since its 1873 inception, reports Politico. During the chaotic siege, lapses in communication by the board, which includes the House and Senate sergeants-at-arms, the architect of the Capitol, and a non-voting presence by the Capitol Police chief, sowed confusion, complicating the National Guard’s deployment to the scene. Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Senate Rules Committee, one of two panels investigating the security breakdowns on Jan. 6, said the board is “designed not to function at all in a crisis” like the one he and his fellow lawmakers experienced firsthand on Jan. 6.

The last time Blunt tried to make changes to the Capitol Police Board—after a 2017 watchdog report faulted its organizational structure—he ran into resistance from congressional leaders. Top members of both parties have favored the current structure of the board because they have the power to appoint its members. Even as lawmakers vent their frustrations with the police board, the Capitol Police chief has asked for a $70 million annual increase to its budget to add nearly 1,000 new officers and respond to what they say is a growing threat environment. The House and Senate are also considering passing a supplemental spending bill to fund enhanced security measures for lawmakers.

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