Representative Adriano Espaillat delivered remarks during the first full House Appropriations Committee markup of the Fiscal Year 2022 government funding bills.
Where he highlighted a number of his priorities that were included in the bill providing annual funds for the legislative branch.
Watch video of Rep. Espaillat’s opening statement and remarks during consideration of the Legislative Branch annual funding bill.
The following are remarks by Rep. Espaillat, as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you, Madam Chair. I rise in support of this fantastic Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. Not only does it include an increase in funds to finally address lagging staff pay throughout the House, it also includes important initiatives and provisions aimed at increasing diversity so our staff and our Capitol look more like our diverse nation.
“I want to thank Chairman Ryan and Chairwoman DeLauro in particular for including some provisions that I raised as concerns during hearings and in my requests to the committee. In the wake of the January 6 insurrection, a few things stood out to me. For one, I noticed on the morning of the 6th that there was an inadequate amount of security sweeps and patrols – particularly in areas off campus where many of us members spend time when we are not voting or meeting with constituents in our offices. So I am grateful for the inclusion of language that directs the Capitol Police to work with the Sergeants at Arms to conduct patrols in areas off campus where members tend to congregate.
“Additionally, in the wake of January 6, I noticed many custodial staff, particularly of color, cleaning up the mess left behind by the white supremacist mob. Their ability to cope with such a traumatic incident troubled me, especially given the unique circumstances faced by people of color in the wake of such attacks. I am very glad the committee included directives to the Office of Employee Assistance to expand the availability of culturally competent mental health services, as well as prioritizing the employment of staff who have worked with people of diverse backgrounds and who themselves come from diverse walks of life.
“Finally, during our hearings earlier this year, I raised questions about the physical security of our data centers in the wake of an attack. So I am glad the bill and report include directives for legislative branch agencies to come up with an action plan for security agency data in secure centers outside the National Capital Region.
“In short, as a new member of this committee and subcommittee, I am grateful for the opportunity to make important improvements to our Capitol complex and to the services provided to members and all the staff who serve with us. This is a good bill and I look forward to supporting it. Thank you, and I yield back.”
“I thank Representative Espaillat for his leadership in shaping a Legislative Branch funding bill that protects the Capitol in the wake of the January 6 attack and makes government work for the people,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03). “I look forward to continuing to work with Mr. Espaillat as we move strong funding bills that invest in the American people.”
“I applaud Representative Espaillat for his tireless commitment to improving security of our nation’s Capitol and expanding mental health services for Congressional staff following the January 6th insurrection. This is a good bill, and I’m proud that it makes substantial investments to strengthen and improve the United States Capitol for Members of Congress, staff, and the thousands of visitors who come here every day to witness our nation’s democracy in action,” said Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), Chair of House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee.
Over the past few months, as the Appropriations Committee has conducted hearings into the aftermath of the January 6 insurrection, Rep. Espaillat has raised important concerns to legislative branch officials and House officers responsible for security as well as for staff wellness.
A number of the issues Espaillat raised are addressed in the FY2022 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill and accompanying report.
Earlier this year, when he had the opportunity to question Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman, Rep. Espaillat raised the need for increased patrols, particularly to areas off the Capitol Campus where members typically spend their time in between votes and meetings.
He also raised these concerns in a letter to the House Sergeant at Arms following a vehicular attack on officers in April.
In response to those concerns, the Appropriations Committee is instructing the Capitol Police to coordinate with the House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to direct patrols to buildings or locations where Members tend to congregate, which was a focus of Espaillat’s questions to the Acting USCP Chief Pittman during hearings earlier this year.
In a hearing earlier this year, Rep. Espaillat recalled seeing the custodial staff of color cleaning up after the white supremacist mob that attacked the Capitol, and the need to provide support services that is both culturally competent and meet the unique needs of the diverse staff that works in the Capitol.
Rep. Espaillat was able to secure directives to the Office of Employee Assistance (OEA) to report on culturally sensitive mental health services, particularly relating to resources available to custodial staff and contractors who work in the Capitol complex in the wake of January 6, 2021.
He also secured language that would prioritize the employment of professionals who both come from diverse backgrounds as well as have experience providing culturally competent support.
In the wake of the January 6, 2021, insurrection, Rep. Espaillat raised concerns about the exposure of IT infrastructure to a physical attack on the Capitol Complex and the impact that could have on continuity of government.
In response, Rep. Espaillat secured language directing legislative branch agencies to develop a plan to use available data storage centers that meet modern cybersecurity standards and are located outside the National Capital Region.
Finally, as the Congress’s only formerly undocumented immigrant, Rep. Espaillat is also proud the House bill includes language allowing DREAMers to work for congressional offices and committees, as well as other legislative branch agencies.
Representative Espaillat is the first Dominican American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and his congressional district includes Harlem, East Harlem, West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill and the northwest Bronx.
First elected to Congress in 2016, Representative Espaillat is serving his third term in Congress. Representative Espaillat currently serves as a member of the influential U.S. House Committee on Appropriations responsible for funding the federal government’s vital activities.
He is also a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), where he serves as the Second Vice-Chair and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, where he serves as Deputy Whip.
Representative Espaillat also currently serves as a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. To find out more about Rep. Espaillat, visit online at https://espaillat.house.gov/.