Many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have made efforts to improve their personal and home security following the Capitol attack in January, The Hill reports.
"We’re seeing more and more elected officials use campaign funds to pay for security each quarter. This isn’t particularly surprising, as we’re only six months separated from a violent mob attacking the Capitol," said Jenna Grande, a spokesperson for the campaign finance oversight group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "After the last year, political rhetoric has become much more violent and people are feeling empowered to act in an aggressive manner toward their elected officials."
Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., has spent the most on security, reportedly paying an Atlanta-based security firm almost $200,000 over the last three months. Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., spent the most of any House legislator with nearly $70,000. Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington and Richard Hudson of North Carolina both bough home security systems following the violent protest, and Hudson’s fellow North Carolina Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn has shelled out $10,000 to a firm in his home state for personal security.
The Hill notes that in May, the Capitol Police reported twice as many threats against members of Congress when compared to the previous year, with about 9,000 potential threats investigated last year alone.
"I’ve never seen a level of threat as intense, persistent, and widespread as this one," former New York congressman Steve Israel, also the ex-chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), told the Hill.
Over 30 members of the House wrote earlier this year to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to request more funding for security in their annual budgets. In January, one of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s leading attorneys advised members that they could use their campaign cash to purchase or upgrade home security systems in some circumstances. The DCCC gave their members similar advice.
Legislators aren’t the only ones looking for more money to spend on security following the Capitol attack. The Capitol Police Department has also reported an impending staffing shortage and other problems after spending much of its budget on additional security for Congress following the incident. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., issued a statement earlier this month calling for immediate action.
"We did not budget for an insurrection, and without action the Capitol Police will go without payment for the hours of overtime they have incurred, without proper equipment, and without sufficient mental health services to deal with the continued trauma from that day. The National Guard, who poured into the Capitol from every State, now may need to cut training that they need to prepare for overseas deployments or response at home," Leahy said, according to CNN.
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