What About the Rest of Us?

Congress is scared.

Of you.

And the bad guys.

And about the possibility that YOU are one of those bad guys.

Scared enough that it’s seriously ratcheting up government spending, of your money, to protect – itself.

But not to protect you.

The online publication Roll Call explains.

At a time when steady significant growth for the Capitol Police looks sure to continue, members of Congress are confessing heightened concern they’ll never be altogether shielded from threats both old-fashioned and high tech — no matter where they are.

“Never be altogether shielded from threats” – is that a reasonable expectation?  Is that government’s expectation of how YOU deserve to be protected, too?

Roll Call continues.

The Senate on Monday, and the House three weeks ago, passed bills allocating more than $450 million for the congressional force in the coming year. It would be at least a 6 percent hike and produce a Capitol Police budget one-third bigger than just five years before. No other part of Congress, nor any of its support organizations, has seen anything approaching such generous and sustained increases in recent years.

 The bulk of the latest supplement would pay for hiring six-dozen additional cops and a score more civilian personnel, continuing plans to grow the force 20 percent in the final five years of this decade. But at more than 2,300 sworn officers now, the Capitol Police is already bigger than the departments in San Francisco or San Antonio and would rank 12th on the roster of the nation’s biggest municipal forces.

That’s a lot of cops, and a lot of spending, just to protect themselves.

And those sworn enemies of government spending in Congress certainly aren’t complaining about this spending.

As with other such boosts in the recent past, this one is sailing toward reality with almost no commentary — and essentially no dissent — during debate on the annual Legislative Branch spending bill. 

Congress is now intent, moreover, on extending its protective bubble even beyond its own facilities.

The Senate version of the Legislative Branch bill earmarks $1 million to boost protection of members when they’re off Capitol Hill but still in the Washington region, and it orders theCapitol Police to come up with a plan for expanding its protective bubble around members when they’re roaming in the D.C. area — including making regular threat assessments of charity dinners and other events that might merit a large congressional turnout.

 The police’s current mission is confined to protecting Capitol Hill, its workforce of about 25,000 and lawmakers whenever they feel threatened back home or on official travel.

 And there’s more proposed spending, too.

 Both bills would allocate $13 million to modernize the network of fencing, concrete barriers and security kiosks that was quickly constructed to surround the Capitol complex in the months after the Sept. 11 attack, during which a hijacked airliner crashed in rural Pennsylvania while on course for downtown Washington.

 The House is focused on bolstering the screening of cars and drivers using the garages underneath and adjacent to the three member office buildings. It is also preparing for $5 million in “security improvements” inside the House chamber — appropriators provided no more details — and $3 million for a new security screening center just south of the Capitol, because the current checkpoint is directly under the Speaker’s Lobby that’s adjacent to the House floor. (Plans are also being made for a more aesthetically appropriate structure to replace the rough-hewn security checkpoints outside the north door, on the Senate side.)

 Meanwhile, Congress has grown increasingly stingy with money to help us regular folks – you know, the people members of Congress were elected to serve.  Mostly, though, they now seem to be focused on themselves, not us.  They deny our cities and states money to improve police services, or even reduce the amount they usually provide, and they also won’t lend a hand by doing something that would cost taxpayers absolutely nothing:

Make it harder for the bad guys to get guns.

No, members of Congress are taking a very me-first approach to public safety:  out-of-control spending to protect themselves and a quick “good luck, keep your head down” to the rest of us.

Members of the U.S. Congress:  always looking out for number one.






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