Lawmakers agree to $1 million in increased security in wake of congressional baseball practice shooting
By FELICIA SONMEZ | The Washington Post | Published: September 10, 2018
WASHINGTON — House and Senate negotiators agreed Monday to dedicate an additional $1 million to security for lawmakers after last year's shooting at a congressional baseball practice and amid a rash of threats in recent months.
The funds were included in the first package of bills that will ensure that the government remains open past the end of September.
Also in the spending package is a $174,000 "death gratuity" to Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Such payments are typical when a member of Congress dies.
Other notable parts of the package include funding for paid congressional internships, a boost in nuclear security spending, a new requirement that Senate candidates file their campaign disclosure forms directly to the Federal Election Commission and the continuation of a pay freeze for members of Congress that was first instituted in 2009.
"Striking a balance between both chambers and parties is never easy, but I am pleased to say we have accomplished that in this conference report," Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said in a statement. "I strongly urge my colleagues in the Senate to support final passage."
The package includes three of the 12 bills needed to keep the government funded past Sept. 30. The measures, which cover Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch appropriations, are expected to head to the House floor for a final vote later this week.
The $1 million dedicated to security for lawmakers at events away from the Capitol is part of a nearly $30 million overall increase in funding for the Capitol Police, according to Roll Call.
It comes more than a year after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and four others were wounded when a gunman opened fire at a June 2017 congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
Other lawmakers, including Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., and Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., have reported receiving death threats in recent months.
"More than one year after Members of Congress were targeted during a baseball practice, it is imperative we are ensuring the safety of members and continuity of government," the Senate Appropriations Committee said in a statement announcing the approval of the bills.
On campaign disclosure, the new appropriations measure requires Senate candidates to electronically file their paperwork directly to the FEC, a long-awaited move that supporters say will streamline the process and increase transparency. Currently, Senate candidates file their disclosure forms by paper with the secretary of the Senate, whose staff then enter the data into a database, while House candidates file either electronically or by paper to the FEC.
The spending package would also for the first time help fund paid internships on Capitol Hill. It dedicates a total of $8.8 million to House internships and $5 million to internships in the Senate.
The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.