The Architect of the U.S. Capitol, Brett Blanton, is expected to request a $67 million increase in the agency's yearly budget from the House Appropriations Committee Thursday, totaling $865 million for the fiscal year 2022.
The increased budget request reflects new challenges facing the caretakers of the top U.S. legislative building, including “infrastructure projects like campus intrusion,” WUSA reporter Mike Valerio first reported Wednesday evening.
But the budget does not appear to reflect what “campus intrusion” projects would entail, like retractable fencing solutions as suggested to Congress by Retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré earlier this week.
"The current, temporary security fencing surrounds such a tremendous area that it requires significant personnel resources to monitor its entire length," the report by Honoré says. "As the fencing comes down, we recommend it be replaced with a mobile fencing option that is easily erected and deconstructed and an integrated, retractable fencing system in the long term for both the Capitol and Congressional office buildings."
Apart from the security concerns that have stricken the U.S. Capitol in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack by pro-Trump supporters, Blanton noted the increased costs affiliated with new cleanliness procedures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been a whirlwind of a year,” Blanton notes in his intended remarks to Congress, highlighting the massive costs brought on by pandemic operations, three lying in state ceremonies, the Capitol attack and President Biden’s inauguration.
“Additional staffing is also required to meet the emerging requirements to ensure the cleanliness of the Capitol campus as we transition to a new normal after the COVID threat,” he notes in his statement.
Blanton is expected to request a new set of janitorial staff to cover specific cleanliness regimens that have been implemented throughout the pandemic.
The Architect of the Capitol is set to also point to expenses carried throughout the year in order to provide sanitary standards now required, along with Personal Protective Equipment, which forced the agency to draw from funds intended for infrastructure-related projects.
The House Appropriations Committee is expected to hear Blanton’s budget testimony Thursday at 1 p.m.