Government Funding Bill gives Justice Department additional funds for Jan. 6 prosecution

WASHINGTON — The $1.7 trillion government funding bill released Tuesday includes additional funding for the Justice Department to continue cases from Jan. 6. Congress hopes to pass it this week.

The package gives US attorneys a budget of $2.63 billion for the coming fiscal year, an increase of $212.1 million from current levels. One of the reasons for the extra money is “to further support prosecutions related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and domestic terrorism cases,” said a summary provided by the House Appropriations Committee.

As NBC News reported in October, the department said it was in critical need of additional resources for its investigation into the Capitol attack, with more than a dozen sources close to the investigation expressing concern. about the resources available for the investigation.

The department had requested $34 million from Congress specifically to complete the investigation. “The cases are on an unprecedented scale and [it] expected to be among the most complex investigations pursued by the Department of Justice,” the DOJ told Congress, adding that the funding was “necessary to pursue the prosecution of the growing number of cases related to this breach of the U.S. Capitol that left the Department with an immense task of finding and indicting those responsible for the attacks.

While it waited for funding, the Justice Department supported the sprawling investigation with the help of US law firms across the country, which loaned federal prosecutors to the effort.

A source involved in the Jan. 6 criminal investigation said Tuesday that they were “sincerely grateful” for the increased funding under the omnibus bill.

“For reasons we understand and for many reasons that can only become apparent over time, it is crucial for us to have the resources that allow us to work as hard as possible for as long as we can,” said the person. on condition of anonymity, told NBC News.

Supporters of meeting the DOJ’s request have long viewed this funding bill as their last chance to get the money, fearing that a Republican-controlled house could block the request early in the new year.

The House Appropriations Committee, which is being led by Democrats for two more weeks, justified the increase in funding for American attorneys, which will include increases in salaries and expenses, in a separate statement citing “the increased burden of Prosecutions Arising from the Attack on the US Capitol and Domestic Terrorism Cases,” among other investigations regarding Covid-19 fraud, civil rights, and white-collar crime.

Additionally, the FBI will receive $11.33 billion, “an increase of $569.6 million over the enacted level for fiscal year 2022 and $524 million above the President’s budget request, including for extremist violence and domestic terrorism investigative efforts,” the House Appropriations Committee summary said.

The FBI has arrested about 900 people in connection with the Jan. 6 attack, and the bureau currently has the identities of hundreds more who have not yet been arrested. The total number of people who could be charged with storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 — either for illegally entering the building or attacking law enforcement outside — is around 3 000.

Three other arrests were unsealed on Tuesday alone: ​​Jacquelyn Starer, a Massachusetts doctor who allegedly assaulted an officer, Rebecca Lavrenz, a Colorado woman who the FBI says admitted she entered the Capitol during a interview in April 2021, and Paul Modrell of Maryland, who was reportedly captured on CCTV footage inside the Capitol. Last week, the FBI re-arrested defendant Edward Kelley on January 6 for allegedly conspiring to kill FBI special agents involved in his investigation.

The funding legislation was negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y. He has the support of key Senate Republicans like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., putting him in a strong position to get the 60 votes needed to break a buccaneer and pass the Senate.

“I have always been for prosecuting anyone who violated the law on Jan. 6,” said Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., an appropriation official and member of the Republican leadership. “And there are already around 800 cases. So I can’t imagine they don’t need the extra money.

House GOP leaders opposed the package from the start of negotiations, but it is likely to pass with overwhelmingly Democratic votes in the chamber.

“The attack on our Capitol remains an indelible stain on our democracy,” Schumer said Tuesday in the Senate while praising other provisions of the bill aimed at tightening election laws in an effort to prevent future events like January 6. “The omnibus is an aggressive, generous and far-reaching ensemble.”

He said he hopes to pass the bill “very soon”.

Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., who co-authored the electoral reform measure, said that and additional DOJ funding are “meaningful steps” to prevent another Jan. 6. “There are some good things we got in this,” he said.

McConnell, speaking on the floor after Schumer, did not mention Jan. 6 in his remarks but welcomed the legislation, particularly its defense spending increases, and urged his colleagues to support it.

“The Senate should pass this bill,” he said.


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