Congress passes bill to provide funding for Capitol Security and Afghan visas

Washington (Associated Press)-Congress overwhelmingly passed emergency legislation on Thursday. The legislation will strengthen the security of the Capitol, repay the outstanding debts of the violent rebellion on January 6, and increase its involvement with the United States in the war in Afghanistan. The number of visas for allies that people work together.

The $2.1 billion bill is now handed over to President Joe Biden for signature. Earlier on Thursday afternoon, the Senate approved the legislation 98-0, and the House of Representatives immediately passed the bill with a score of 416-11.

Senators reached a bipartisan agreement on the legislation this week, and the House of Representatives passed a bill two months ago that would provide approximately twice the security of the Capitol. But House leaders said they would support the Senate version anyway, believing that congressional police, translators, and others who work closely with US government forces and Afghan civilians urgently need the money.

The bill relaxes some visa requirements. Legislators said that as the U.S. withdrawal enters the final weeks, Afghan allies may face retaliation from the Taliban. These requirements are particularly urgent.

Funding for the Capitol—including police salaries, the National Guard, and better protection of the doors and windows around the building—was more than six months after supporters of former President Donald Trump launched a rebellion. The broad support of the two houses is a rare agreement between the two parties on the attack, because many Republicans who are still loyal to Trump avoided the topic. Loyalists of the former president brutally defeated the police and hundreds of people broke into the building, interrupting the certification of Biden’s election victory.

Democrats have said that if Congress does not pass the bill, by August, officials’ salaries will begin to run out, and the National Guard may have to cancel some training programs.

“We can’t let this happen,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote. He said that the agreement “should not take so long”, but passing legislation is fulfilling the responsibility of Congress to ensure the safety of the Capitol “and to ensure that the people who risk our lives and protect us get the help they need.”

The bill passed after the four police officers who repelled the mob in the January 6 attack testified in an emotional hearing in the House of Representatives on Tuesday and described in detail the “medieval” battles in which they were beaten and verbally beaten. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said on Wednesday that the hearing may “anger the Senate’s bipartisan passage of this legislation.”

The more generous bill passed in the House of Representatives in May by a narrow margin, but no Republicans supported it, and some liberal Democrats also voted against it. On Thursday, only 11 Republicans and Democrats opposed.

In the Senate, Republicans rejected the $3.7 billion proposal made by Democrats earlier before negotiating the final version.

Pelosi said on Wednesday that the legislation was overdue for several months.

“This is not what we sent, and of course it is not what we need, but it is a big step forward,” she said. “This does not mean that we are done, but it does mean that we can’t wait another day until we strengthen the capital police force and strengthen the parliament building.”

The legislation will strengthen the personal protection of legislators whose death threats have been increasing since the riots, install new security cameras around the complex, and replace riot equipment lost by the police during the battle that day. It will fund new intelligence collection and provide health and trauma support to Congressional police, as many troops are still suffering after the attack. It will compensate the National Guard with $521 million to protect thousands of soldiers in the Capitol for more than four months after the siege.

Unlike previous proposals, this bill will not provide funding for the FBI to prosecute cases related to the rebellion, will not provide funding for a temporary fence where another attack occurred, and will not establish a new unit within the police or military. The rapid reaction force came to respond to the incident at the Capitol. On January 6, the police overspent because the National Guard took several hours to arrive.

The White House issued a statement supporting the legislation, stating that the Biden administration supports improvements in the security of the Capitol and “continues to be committed to supporting the Afghan people, including fulfilling our commitment to Afghan nationals working for or on behalf of the U.S. government.”

For Afghanistan’s allies, the bill will allow an additional 8,000 visas and provide them with US$500 million for emergency transportation, housing and other basic services.

Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican in the funding group negotiating legislation with the Democrats, said that it would be “shameful” not to help Afghanistan’s allies, and that they could be taken by the Taliban as the United States withdraws. Kill.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that the senators “plan to keep our country’s commitment to the brave Afghans, who are taking great risks to help the United States and our partners fight terrorists.”

The House of Representatives passed separate legislation last week by an overwhelming majority to provide 407-16 visas. The Pentagon stated that more than 95% of the troop withdrawal has been completed and will be completed on August 31.

Since 2008, about 70,000 people have resettled in the United States under the special visa program. Government officials said this month that the first flights of former US employees and family members who completed security checks will arrive soon from the Afghan capital Kabul. The final treatment takes about a week in Fort Lee, Virginia.

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Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.

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