By a margin of one vote, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a bill that allocates $1.9 billion to intensify security and increase policing at the U.S. Capitol. Among other things, the bill would boost armed security for members of Congress, fortify security protections at the Capitol, provide funds in “reimbursement” to the National Guard, and increase funding for the Capitol Police. A small portion of it would provide counseling services to Capitol Police officers dealing with trauma.
The 213-212 vote was a party line vote with six exceptions. All Republicans voted against it. All Democrats voted for the bill except for six. Three members of the left-wing faction of the House known as the “Squad” joined their GOP colleagues to vote against the bill: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO), and Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). But the other three members of the Squad — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) — voted neither “yes” nor “no” but rather “present.” All six had previously told activist groups that they opposed the bill.
Had any of these three Squad members voted “no” instead of “present,” then the bill would have been defeated. In other words, this faction of the Squad had the power fully in their hands to block passage of a bill that would increase police funding and enhance the power of the security state to prevent the public from entering the U.S. Capitol: a bill they claimed to oppose. But they chose not to use that power and instead allowed this pro-police, pro-security-state bill to pass the House. It now heads to the Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has vowed to bring it to a floor vote, though it remains uncertain if they will be able to find ten Republican Senators needed for it to pass the Senate and be sent to the White House for signing.
There are several amazing aspects to this episode. To begin with, all three Squad members who abstained today on this bill — which effectively ensured its passage — have spent the last year chanting and tweeting that the police should be defunded. Just last month, Rep. Tlaib demanded that the police be defunded and disbanded…