June 24, 2021

Klobuchar, Blunt, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Provide U.S. Capitol Police Chief with Unilateral Authority to Request Emergency Assistance from National Guard

Legislation is based on a recommendation in the joint report of the Rules and Homeland Security Committees on security, planning, and response failures on January 6th

WASHINGTON -- Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and colleagues, introduced the Capitol Police Emergency Assistance Act to empower the Chief of the United States Capitol Police to unilaterally request the assistance of the District of Columbia National Guard or federal law enforcement agencies in emergencies without prior approval of the Capitol Police Board.

The legislation reflects a key recommendation of the bipartisan report on the security, planning, and response failures related to the January 6th attack on the Capitol that was released by the Rules and Homeland Security Committees on June 8, 2021.

“January 6th showed us that every minute counts during an emergency,” said Klobuchar, D-MN. “Our report found that Capitol Police officers and their law enforcement partners were left alone to defend the Capitol and our democracy itself from violent insurrectionists, while the Chief of the Capitol Police was delayed in obtaining approval to request help from the National Guard. This legislation will help ensure the Capitol Police Chief has the authority needed to call for reinforcements at the Capitol swiftly during emergencies.”  

“Our bipartisan investigation into the response failures on January 6th clearly demonstrated the need for the Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police to have more unilateral flexibility to quickly request assistance in an emergency,” said Blunt. “I have long been concerned that the structure of the Capitol Police Board creates unnecessary delays when swift, decisive action is needed. This bipartisan bill addresses a major security challenge that was evident on January 6th, and is part of our ongoing effort to strengthen Capitol security moving forward.”

Klobuchar and Blunt were joined on the bill by Senators King (I-ME), Wicker (R-MS) Feinstein (D-CA), Capito (R-WV), Merkley (D-OR), Padilla (D-CA), and Warner (D-VA).

The legislation also strengthens Congressional oversight of the Capitol Police by providing for joint oversight hearings before the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and the Committee on House Administration with all members of the Capitol Police Board in attendance. The full Capitol Police Board, which consists of the Senate Sergeant at Arms, the House Sergeant at Arms, the Architect of the Capitol, and the Chief of the U.S. Capitol Police (ex-officio, non-voting), has not appeared at a bicameral hearing since 1945.

###