U.S. Capitol Police are pushing back on suggestions that a budget crisis could force the department to put officers on leave later in the summer.
The agency faces severe budget cuts, largely due to an increase in staff overtime following the Jan.6 attack on the Capitol. These surprise costs have led to expect the ministry’s salary budget to run out as early as mid-August – a month and a half before funding is replenished early in the next fiscal year. The dilemma was first reported on Friday morning by Punchbowl News, which suggested the result could be temporary layoffs among the officer corps.
The department, however, offers an indication that the holidays can be avoided. In a statement on Friday, a spokesperson said the USPC was working with Congress to ensure the department remains fully staffed, despite budget constraints.
“The United States Capitol Police continue to advise and work with our oversight committees, so that the department can secure the Capitol, members and staff within our funding levels,” the spokesperson said. speech in an email. “Supporting our workforce while accomplishing our mission remains a high priority. “
The USCP declined to be more specific. But another source familiar with its budget dilemma said the ministry had some flexibility to transfer funds from other compartments – including money intended for equipment purchase and training – in order to avoid agents’ leave. The department could also free up additional funds by closing some Capitol Hill checkpoints when Congress leaves Washington for the long August vacation, when such closures are common each year, the source said.
Yet such funding transfers could have their own liabilities, depleting USCP in equipment and training just six months after the deadly mob attack on Capitol Hill, which injured around 140 law enforcement officers, more than half of which represent the Capitol police.
“It’s not like there’s money right there. They should stop doing anything else, or stop buying equipment, or that sort of thing. To what extent this would cover even the shortfall, we’re not entirely sure, ”the source said. “The bottom line is:… They will deplete the payroll account in mid-August. And they can have workarounds and they can’t. And even if they did, they probably wouldn’t be in the best interests of the department in the long run. “
The USCP’s budget woes come amid a deadlock in Congress over legislation to provide the department with emergency funding to overcome the crisis. Although the House passed $ 1.9 billion in additional funding in May, resistance from Republicans in the Senate blocked the proposal in the upper house.
Supporters of the House bill are now using the news of USCP’s budget problems to promote emergency funding – and pressure Senate Republicans to drop their opposition. The House package includes approximately $ 44 million for the Capitol Police, including funds for overtime, training, equipment, trauma support for officers, and expansion of intelligence gathering.
“Because the men and women of the Capitol Police have been working more and more overtime following January 6, USCP is on the way to depleting its salary account before the end of this fiscal year.” , said a second source close to the subject. create serious problems for the department if the Senate does not act and adopt our security supplement, which included $ 31.1 million to replenish this account. “
The law enforcement debate is hardly confined to the Capitol Police. More than a year after George Floyd was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, Congress is still fighting for an agreement on legislation designed to address racial prejudice in police departments across the country. And the republicans accuse President BidenJoe BidenJohn Kerry to Visit Moscow Officials to Discuss “Global Climate Ambition” Civil Rights Leaders Find Meeting with WH “Encouraging” Amid Voting Rights Battle Pentagon Considering Locations to Send Afghan interpreters as Biden promises evacuations by end of July MORE and Democrats for being lenient on crime on the southern border, where a wave of migration has overwhelmed law enforcement and strained immigration courts tasked with screening asylum seekers.
Against this backdrop, even those sounding the alarm bells over the USCP’s budget woes predict that Congress will not leave Washington without addressing it – if the threat of vacation time is real.
“It’s unlikely,” the first source said, referring to the temporary layoffs. “Because frankly, if it got to the point where there was no other option, I think Congress would end up passing something.
“If they come to us and say, ‘We don’t have the capacity, even with transfers, to get out of this hole,’ I think that would push the Senate to act,” the source added. “It takes a lot, but I think it would. “