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Congress passes invoice to fund Capitol safety, Afghan visas

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress overwhelmingly handed emergency laws Thursday that might bolster safety on the Capitol, repay excellent money owed from the violent Jan. 6 revolt and enhance the variety of visas for allies who labored alongside People within the Afghanistan struggle.

The $2.1 billion invoice now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature. The Senate accredited the laws early Thursday afternoon, 98-0, and the Home handed it instantly afterward, 416-11.

Senators struck a bipartisan settlement on the laws this week, two months after the Home had handed a invoice that might have supplied round twice as a lot for Capitol safety. However Home leaders mentioned they’d again the Senate model anyway, arguing the cash is urgently wanted for the Capitol Police and for the translators and others who labored intently with U.S. authorities troops and civilians in Afghanistan.

The invoice loosens some necessities for the visas, which lawmakers say are particularly urgent because the U.S. army withdrawal enters its remaining weeks and Afghan allies face doable retaliation from the Taliban.

The cash for the Capitol — together with for police salaries, the Nationwide Guard and to higher safe home windows and doorways across the constructing — comes greater than six months after the revolt by former President Donald Trump’s supporters. The broad help in each chambers is a uncommon be aware of settlement between the 2 events in response to the assault, as many Republicans nonetheless loyal to Trump have prevented the topic. The previous president’s loyalists brutally beat police and tons of of them broke into the constructing, interrupting the certification of Biden’s election win.

Democrats have mentioned that if Congress did not move the invoice, cash would begin operating out for officers’ salaries by August and that the Nationwide Guard may need to cancel some coaching packages.

“We will’t let that occur,” Senate Majority Chief Chuck Schumer mentioned earlier than the vote. He mentioned the settlement “shouldn’t have taken this lengthy” however that passing the laws resides as much as Congress’ accountability to maintain the Capitol protected “and to guarantee that the individuals who threat their lives for us and defend us get the assistance they want.”

The invoice’s passage comes after 4 law enforcement officials who fought off the rioters within the Jan. 6 assault testified in an emotional Home listening to on Tuesday and detailed the “medieval” battle by which they have been overwhelmed and verbally assaulted. Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi advised on Wednesday that the listening to had maybe “jarred the Senate to maneuver in a bipartisan approach to move this laws.”

The extra beneficiant invoice narrowly handed the Home in Could, however no Republicans supported it and a few liberal Democrats voted in opposition to it as nicely. On Thursday, solely 11 Republicans and Democrats opposed it.

Within the Senate, Republicans rejected an earlier $3.7 billion proposal by Democrats earlier than they negotiated the ultimate model.

Pelosi mentioned on Wednesday that the laws was months overdue.

“It’s not what we despatched, it’s definitely not what we’d like, but it surely’s step ahead,” she mentioned. “It doesn’t imply that we’re completed, but it surely does imply that we will’t wait one other day till we strengthen the Capital Police drive, strengthen the Capitol.”

The laws would increase private safety for lawmakers who’ve seen rising loss of life threats for the reason that revolt, set up new safety cameras across the advanced and change riot gear the police misplaced within the combating that day. It will fund new intelligence gathering and increase wellness and trauma help for the Capitol Police, as many troops are nonetheless struggling within the wake of the assault. And it might reimburse the Nationwide Guard $521 million for the hundreds of troops that protected the Capitol for greater than 4 months after the siege.

In contrast to earlier proposals, the invoice wouldn’t present cash for the FBI to prosecute instances associated to the revolt, for short-term fencing in case of one other assault or to create a brand new fast response drive inside the police or army that would reply to occasions on the Capitol. Police have been overrun on Jan. 6 because the Nationwide Guard took hours to reach.

The White Home issued an announcement of help for the laws, saying the Biden administration backs the Capitol safety enhancements and “stays dedicated to supporting the Afghan folks, together with by fulfilling our dedication to Afghan nationals who labored for or on behalf of the U.S. Authorities.”

For the allies in Afghanistan, the invoice would permit 8,000 further visas and supply $500 million for his or her emergency transportation, housing and different important providers.

Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the highest Republican on the appropriations panel who negotiated the laws with the Democrats, mentioned it might be “shameful” to not assist the Afghan allies and that they might be killed by the Taliban because the U.S. withdraws.

Senate Republican chief Mitch McConnell mentioned senators “intend to maintain our nation’s guarantees to courageous Afghans who’ve taken nice dangers to assist America and our companions combat the terrorists.”

The Home overwhelmingly handed separate laws final week to offer the visas, 407-16. The Pentagon says the troop withdrawal is greater than 95% full and is to be completed by Aug. 31.

Some 70,000 have already got resettled within the U.S. underneath the particular visa program since 2008. Administration officers mentioned this month that the primary flights of these former U.S. workers and members of the family who’ve accomplished safety screening would quickly begin arriving from the Afghan capital, Kabul, for every week or so of ultimate processing at Fort Lee, Virginia.

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

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