House Republicans, still reeling from last week’s baseball field shooting that nearly killed Majority Whip Steve Scalise, are floating a sharp increase in spending to hire personal security and protect their homes and district offices from potential violent attacks.
In a closed-door meeting of the House Republican conference, Speaker Paul Ryan discussed beefing up members’ security budgets by as much as $25,000 apiece. Lawmakers exiting the meeting said the funds would likely help lawmakers hire personal protection, especially in districts where local police aren’t able to provide round-the-clock security. The funds could also be used to help members pay for alarms in their homes or panic buttons if they’re ever in physical danger.
In a tense political environment where physical threats are increasingly common, lawmakers say the funding is necessary to ensure their safety and peace of mind, especially when they’re away from the heavily-secured Capitol.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), who was among those who dodged bullets in last week’s attack, said lawmakers were discussing “whatever preemptive measures we can take.”
“I think this is a bipartisan issue,” he said.
Members also discussed obtaining a blanket waiver from the Federal Election Commission permitting members to use campaign funds for security while conducting political business as well. Members can obtain individual waivers now, but lawmakers are interested in securing a broader standing waiver that wouldn’t require them to individually seek FEC permission.
Loudermilk said current restrictions have left lawmakers hampered when it comes to spending on personal security, such as bulletproof glass for their offices.