In the wake of the incident on Capitol Hill on Thursday, members of Congress are confronted with a new hot-button issue in the government shutdown – pay the U.S. Capitol Police who defended the Hill while their paychecks are on hold.
Lawmakers got a subtle reprimand from the Senate chaplain in the form of a benediction today, urging divine intervention to rid the lawmakers of their “stubborn pride” and to “forgive them for the blunders.”
Capitol Police have been deemed essential during the shutdown, so they have been working but will not be paid until the budget fight is resolved.
Senate Chaplain Barry Black used his daily prayer to urge Congress to find a way to compensate the Capitol Police promptly.
“Lord, we’re grateful for our law enforcement agents and first responders, and pray that we may emulate their patriotism and self-sacrifice. May we go beyond applause in expressing our gratitude but make decisions that will ensure their timely and fair compensation,” Black said today in his prayer on the Senate floor.
“Give our lawmakers the vision and the willingness to see and do your will. Remove from them that stubborn pride which imagines itself to be above and beyond criticism. Forgive them for the blunders they have committed, infusing them with the courage to admit and correct mistakes,” he added.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who once worked nights as a Capitol Police officer, thanked the Capitol Police for their service and noted the financial and manpower constraints law enforcement agencies are facing during the shutdown.
“The people out there yesterday were out there risking their lives without pay,” Reid said today. “Because of these furloughs, the Capitol Police, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies face additional risk as they’re asked to do their jobs with limited manpower. Congress owes it to them and every American family to get past our differences and re-open the United States federal government.”
Many senators wore pins on their lapels today as a token of thanks to the Capitol Police for their service.
“The men and women in the Capitol Police stepped up to defend this Capitol building and all those who work here and visit here,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
Hours after the high-speed chase that ended on Capitol Hill, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told ABC News’ Jeff Zeleny that it is a “national disgrace” that Capitol Police are not receiving pay during the shutdown.
“That this government is shut down today and they’re not getting paid is a national disgrace,” Sanders said Thursday.
Earlier in the week, Congress passed legislation that would pay members of the military during the shutdown. The House is trying to enact piecemeal measures that would fund specific agencies and programs during the shutdown, but the Senate has argued against this plan, saying the entire federal government must be opened at once.
The House will vote Saturday to provide back pay for furloughed employees as part of a piece-by-piece approach to fund the government, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said today.