In one of the first acts of the 112th Congress, House members voted last week to cut their annual office budgets by 5 percent (about $35 million). But following the tragic events in Tucson over the weekend, where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) was attacked at a “Congress on Your Corner” meet-and-greet event, some members have called for additional security measures.
These proposals would, quite obviously, cost money to implement. In fact, Rep. Jesse Jackson (D., Ill.) said he wants to undo that 5 percent cut and increase members’ office budgets by 10 percent to pay for beefed-up security measures.
Rep. Dan Burton (R., Ind.) said this week he plans to re-introduce legislation that would provide for a Plexiglas shield surrounding the House chamber to protect members from projectiles or explosives hurled by members of the public.
Could these measures garner the support to pass? And if so, would that jeopardize the recently enacted budget cuts? A House GOP aide told National Review Online that it’s premature to speculate at this point, but that party leadership would be mindful moving forward. It’s worth noting that the 5 percent budget cut passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 410–13, and the overriding sentiment in the wake of the shooting seems to be that restricting access to members of Congress in any way would be the wrong thing to do. It could be more likely that a proposal from Rep. Jack Kingston (R., Ga.) to save money by doing away with security escorts for “lower-level leadership members” will be adopted.