By Richard Cowan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved emergency funding to replenish the Capitol Police and bolster security after the Jan. 6 riot by supporters of then-President Donald Trump and to evacuate Afghans who helped American forces from their country.
The $2.1 billion bill was passed by the Senate by a vote of 98-0. The House of Representatives, which previously passed its own $1.9 billion bill, was planning to promptly approve the Senate version, which would clear the way for President Joe Biden to sign it into law.
The bill would provide $521 million to reimburse National Guard units deployed for months to the Capitol following the riot and $300 million for increased security measures at the site. It also would provide $71 million for the Capitol Police to cover overtime costs, hire new officers and other expenses and $35.4 million for that force’s mutual-aid agreements with other law enforcement jurisdictions to help in emergencies.
Without fast action, “Capitol Police funding will be depleted literally in a number of weeks,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said.
About half the money approved by the Senate would go toward evacuating Afghans who assisted U.S. military forces in Afghanistan over the past two decades, as America draws down its mission there.
Leahy said the money will pay for expanding the number of special U.S. visas for translators and other Afghans who worked for U.S. forces there and to provide humanitarian aid for an anticipated rush of migrants seeking refuge outside of Afghanistan.
The funding includes “humanitarian aid for the inevitable flood of Afghans fleeing to neighboring countries. The United Nations has estimated that could swell to 500,000 refugees in just the next few months,” Leahy said.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Will Dunham)